The Ever-Diminishing “Moderate” Minority in the LCMS, By Martin R. Noland

I have being wondering what the LCMS moderates have been thinking since the election of President Matthew Harrison and his fellow conservatives in 2010.  Occasional forays onto the public blog of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?board=8.0) have evidenced more venting and bickering than thinking.

I recently rediscovered the web-site of the “Daystar” organization, which has a new web address (see http://thedaystarjournal.com/).  Under the “Recent Articles” section, Dr. Robert Schmidt, Professor Emeritus of Concordia University—Portland, offers some reflections on the present position of LCMS moderates in his brief article “The Remnant.”  Note the elegiac tone.

On the relationship between former President Kieschnick and LCMS moderates, Schmidt states “After rallying around the initial candidacy of Gerald Kieschnick, moderates felt let down when he moved to the right and failed to champion their issues.  As a result, few worked hard for him in the last election and predictably he lost.”

What were the defining issues that Kieschnick failed to champion?  Schmidt answers “a welcoming communion table, fellowship with other Christians, celebrating the ministries of women, and patient understanding and acceptance of gay brothers and sisters.”  Interpreting these phrases in the light of the rest of Schmidt’s article, these can be tersely stated as:  open communion, ecumenical agenda, women’s leadership in the church, ordination of women, and the homosexual agenda.

I wonder how different these defining issues are from those of the left-wing of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  I can’t see much of a difference, which would mean that the term “moderate” rings hollow.  In truth, Schmidt’s defining issues ARE the issues of liberals.  Kieschnick’s position was, after all, the moderate position between the liberal minority and the resurgent conservative majority.

What will the so-called LCMS “moderates” do now?  Schmidt says “Most of those educated under Piepkorn, Caemmerer, Krentz, the Dankers, and Franzmann have now retired from the ministry.  Wearied from the battles of the seventies and the [sic] discouraged about the results of the last election, many moderates are also retiring from the politics of the Synod.”  As I have said previously on this blog, this indicates a generational change of leadership in the LCMS.

Should we conclude now that the LCMS “moderates” contributed NOTHING positive to their church from 1945 to 2010—that all the positives were on the conservative side and all the negatives on the other?  No.

We must first state clearly that the conservative’s stand on Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions was absolutely correct and necessary.  Paradigmatic examples of that stand are found in:  J.A.O. Preus’ “A Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles” (1972), published in “Heritage in Motion” (CPH, 1998); Ralph Bohlmann’s “Principles of Biblical Interpretation in the Lutheran Confessions” (CPH, 1968); and Robert Preus’ essays in the two volumes “Doctrine is Life” (CPH, 2006) and his “The Inspiration of Scripture” (reprint, CPH, 2003).  Without this Scriptural and Confessional foundation, the Lutheran house will most certainly collapse!

But we cannot deny that the LCMS moderates had some salutary effect on their church, although it was disturbing to many folks at the time.

LCMS moderates were united in their support of the American Civil Rights movement.  The roles of Andrew Schulze, O.P. Kretzmann, and Richard John Neuhaus cannot be forgotten.  Nor can we forget the patient leadership of many African-American pastors, such as R. F. Jenkins, Joseph Lavalais, Richard Dickinson, and Robert King. The integration of African-Americans into the life and governance of this church did not come easily (see Richard Ziehr, “The Struggle for Unity” [CPH, 1999]).  Today African-Americans serve in significant and powerful positions in the LCMS, including the LCMS Board of Directors, both seminary board of regents, and as the director of Lutheran World Relief.  The integration of Latinos and Asian-Americans has followed in the wake of the African-American success.

LCMS moderates had a heart-felt concern for the urban center and its needs, which was being abandoned by LCMS congregational members.  District boards for “Social Ministry,” and operations with similar purposes, attempted to keep a Gospel witness in the “inner city.”  This competed with the interests of “church growth” executives and Willow Creek Association LCMS pastors, who wanted to move all metropolitan congregations to the outer suburbs and exult in suburban “homogeneity.”

LCMS moderates had a heart-felt concern for all types of charity and human care issues, which they continue to share with the current president, Matthew Harrison.  LCMS moderates kept reminding their church that the earliest church in the Book of Acts was heavily involved in human care, as was its chief theologian Saint Paul.

LCMS moderates were not dismissive of modern theological scholarship, unlike most conservatives.  LCMS moderates “wrestled with the giants” such as Barth, Brunner, Bultmann, the Niebuhrs, Tillich, Moltmann, and Pannenberg.  They were, in this respect, following the path blazed by C.F.W. Walther and Francis Pieper who “wrestled with the giants” of their day.  But the moderates were, fatally, overconfident in their ability to withstand the appeal and force of these intellectual giants.  LCMS moderates trained in the old educational “system” had excellent linguistic skills, but were inadequately trained in philosophy and the history of theology—or just trained wrong, truth be told!

Will the LCMS moderates now simply sail away into the sunset, or will they also leave behind a Trojan horse filled with “Greeks bearing gifts”?  Schmidt’s comment about the gates of Babylon, in his penultimate paragraph, makes me wonder.

Pastor Dr. Martin R. Noland
Trinity Lutheran Church
Evansville, IN


Comments

The Ever-Diminishing “Moderate” Minority in the LCMS, By Martin R. Noland — 94 Comments

  1. A few years ago I ran across an excellent paper that described the present-day LCMS as three distinct groups. I wish that I could find it again. I believe that it was called “Three Missouris” or something like that. It rang very true to me. It contrasted “Old Missouri” people (pretty much we BJS types) with two other groups–I forget the terms but the meanings were, in one case, kind of similar in belief and practice to non-denominational Christians, and, in the other case, fairly socially and theologically liberal Christians similar to what is often called “American mainstream denominations”.

    Does anyone know where to find this paper?

    A lot of the churn in this thread about modern-day LCMS issues and groups is handled very well by postulating the three categories instead of just two.

    Of course, the original post is more about the divisions in place in the 70’s and how they have played out recently, and I find that fascinating as well (as one who was there. Fighting.)

  2. Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
    Bosporus- aged antilegomenist
    broad-sense Arian Apostate
    bronze- calvinist CEO-wannabe
    contemporary chancel-prancing Consecrationist
    crypto- charismatic errorist
    double- church Fundamentalist
    gnesio- church-growth Gospel reductionist
    high- destination Grabauite
    hyper- drenched homologoumenist
    hypocritical Eastern Iconoclast
    left-wing eisogetic Judiazer
    low- euro Loeheist
    lukewarm exegetic Lufauxran
    mono- gnostic Lutheran
    narrow-sense heterodox Ordinationist
    old lapsarian Papist
    Pecksniffian lukewarm Pietist
    post- methobapticostal Receptionist
    pre- millennial Reprobate
    pseudo- missional Sacerdotalist
    quasi- modern sacramentalist
    radical Nestorian Schwarmerei
    right-wing orthodox sectarian
    sanctimonious Pelagian Sleeping Giant
    semi- quatenus Stephanite
    sub- quia Thurifer
    supra- ritualistic Unitarian
    Tiber- Romish Waltherian
    unrepentant wading Zwinglian
  3. Martin Noland,

    You should notice that my post used the term “moderate” not as a type, but as a term, i.e., the so-called “moderates.” The term “moderate” was invented, adopted, and self-applied by those persons (primarily clergy) in the LCMS who followed the track laid out by the Statement of the 44. As “Old Saint John” observes correctly in comment #13, the term “moderate” was chosen by them as a political strategy, in order to politically marginalize what was actually the majority of clergy and laypeople in the LCMS.

    The interesting thing being, that one of the main issues that these “moderates” complained about it now a position that is held by most of the LCMS conservatives: prayer fellowship. The signers of the Statement of 44 objected to how missionary Adolph Brux was treated after he prayed with non-Lutheran Christian missionaries. Of course, nowadays, prayer fellowship with other Christians is accepted by the most conservative in the LCMS.

    So it is interesting to see how a “moderate” position moved to become the “conservative” position.

    Which is the whole point: liberal, moderate, and conservative don’t mean much. What means much is whether a position is Scriptural or not. Holding on to a position that rejects women’s suffrage may be conserving a teaching of the past—however it is not Scriptural.

    It is more “conservative” to say that women can’t serve as President—but Scriptural support is a bit lacking.

    This is not to say that the terms have no use—generally though they refer to Scriptural inerrancy. But in the LCMS, true liberals are so few and far between, they statistically non-existant. An LCMS moderate is a conservative Christian by just about any measure.

    So, even though Gaius Kurios sees me as a moderate/really liberal, the fact is that I still see myself as conservative. As was Pres K. There are some distinctions that we have in our Synod today—but they generally aren’t divided up along a conservative/liberal divide.

  4. @Old Time St. John’s #51

    I cannot find the “Three Missouri’s”, and as I’m out of town, can’t access the file. It was written by Dr. David Adams of CSL, and if you email him at CSL, I’m willing to be that he would make it available to you.

    He also wrote an excellent article called “Lutheran Evangelicalism and Evangelical Lutherans” or something like that. Good reading.

    Johannes

  5. Martin R. Noland @ 47
    “or affirm a “Liberal Protestant” theology (e.g., Schleiermacher, Ritschl, Harnack, von Hofmann, Barth, Pannenberg, etc.).”

    A little off topic, but what in Pannenberg is liberal? I’ve been reading him over the last few years, esp. his work on the philosophy of science. My knowledge of him is incomplete, however, I would call him a champion of orthodoxy vis-a-vis Modernism. His “Historicity of Nature” is profound, Biblical, and Christocentric.
    God bless,

  6. @Mark Louderback #53
    But in the LCMS, true liberals are so few and far between, they statistically non-existant. An LCMS moderate is a conservative Christian by just about any measure.

    This is written by the same person who was quite insistent not long ago, that “nobody” in the lcms was in favor of women’s ordination.

    An lcms moderate may be a “conservative Christian” but one can ask the question, Is he Lutheran? Obvious reliance on Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal and non-denom “wisdom” at leadership conferences makes one wonder, even about the “conservative” claim!
    Has he really got any [Lutheran] clothes on?

  7. Helen,

    This is written by the same person who was quite insistent not long ago, that “nobody” in the lcms was in favor of women’s ordination.

    Chuckle. I wish you’d get things right about me. The Women’s Ordination bet that I made—and that no one has collected on—is that no one could give ten names of active pastors who support women’s ordination.

    No one has been able to produce 10 names—ten names!

    An lcms moderate may be a “conservative Christian” but one can ask the question, Is he Lutheran?

    Well, that certainly is correct. What does it mean to be a Lutheran? Can a person be a Lutheran and hold solely to the teachings of Scripture and not rules and traditions of men? Some say “No, you gotta do more than Scripture to be a Lutheran.”

    Others disagree. (shrug) I think with the Koin we’ll work that all out.

  8. The Women’s Ordination bet that I made—and that no one has collected on—is that no one could give ten names of active pastors who support women’s ordination.

    Oh there’s no way. First of all, according to the conventional wisdom (of this blog anyway) supporting women’s ordination is a sin approximately two and a half times greater than the one found in Matt 12:32 and almost half as serious as unionism. Secondly, letters addressed “Dear Reverend Father” would be written and delivered post haste to respective DPs. Though we follow the Lamb we fight like demons.

  9. Mark Louderback :The Women’s Ordination bet that I made—and that no one has collected on—is that no one could give ten names of active pastors who support women’s ordination.
    No one has been able to produce 10 names—ten names!

    I know of one active, and one recently retired. I have a third I strongly suspect, but the instant I cough up ONE name, I’ll have all the 8th Commandment people crawling up my butt for being accusatory and slanderous. No, thank you. The most I will offer up is Herman Otten will accuse the DayStar people/writers of advocating that. I do not know these people well at all, but if someone feels the need to look into those allegations… I know he prints his letters in his paper about how he often files charges against a slew of people. I just know the chatter is out there, and that’s it.

    Oh, and incidentally, you didn’t exactly specify in this last post about which pastors. Go over to ALPB, and you’l find ten times ten names….

  10. Is this approach below “moderate”? I think it, also, is a holdover from the 70’s — and it may have something in common with a “moderate” view, but I don’t know that it necessarily qualifies as “moderate” — and I wonder if it, too, is diminishing.

    NORTHERN ILLINOIS DISTRICT ADVERTISING EMAIL FOLLOWS:

    A Taste of New Starts
    Saturday, June 25
    12 noon to 3 p.m.

    Held at Celebration Ministries, a new start at the former Hope Lutheran Church, 424 Indianwood Blvd., Park Forest, Illinois

    Featuring: Drama Troupe, Puppets, Bounce House, Praise Dancers, Zion 109th Music Team and Young Boys’ Karate troupe, a joint Celebration/Trinity Roselle bell choir, and more…RAIN OR SHINE

    You would not believe how excited our new start at Celebration is at this opportunity to share with you! They are so looking forward to seeing you there.

    The Northern Illinois District is pairing up with Celebration Ministries to roll out the red carpet for you with sumptuous picnic samplings, entertainment under the big tent, activities for kids, and fellowship with community members from the neighborhood near Celebration.

    Everything gets underway with a Very Important Presentation from District President Dan Gilbert on the dot at noon. This is especially for guests from across the district….people like you who read about, pray for and send your gifts to support the work we do as a church together through New Starts…New Believers.

    We really hope to see you there and encourage you to bring any guests that you’d like — including kids or grandkids. It’s a FREE EVENT, but we need you to make reservations in advance. Please RSVP at left. Event will be held rain or shine.

    COMMENTS:

    This “Taste of New Starts” description is a recent e-mail advertisement from the LCMS’s Northern Illinois District promoted by the district president as part of the “New Starts, “New Believers,” a program which he endorses.

    As you saw, the “former” Hope Lutheran Church is dropping the name “Lutheran” and “Church” in favor of “Celebration Ministries” while it features everything from a drama troupe to a karate troupe. Does this make it difficult for people to tell whether the Kingdom of God — or a circus — is coming to town?

    This is being showcased by the NID as a model method for starting new congregations: “This is a unique opportunity for you to visit a new start and see some of our new start ministries firsthand. The LCMS Northern Illinois District is inviting all our special district friends, like you, to this FREE Saturday event.” [Note: “special district friends” like me . . .]

    When I complained, I was told not to worry – this is nothing more than a church picnic, not an evangelism event and everyone will be directed to the church services where a called and ordained LCMS pastor will conduct the services. Obviously, I get too worked up about these things. Thank you to my friends who tell me to take a deep breath . . .

    There have been numerous failed attempts at this sort of “new start” throughout the synod. Who is privy to the synodical statistics on how many missions have failed with the church growth startup methods in the past 25 years? Who will be held accountable for such ventures if they are shown statistically to fail more often than not?

    And wasn’t there a synodical overture passed which says something about using the name “Lutheran” when LCMS congregations refer to themselves?

  11. @Old Time St. John’s #51
    “A few years ago I ran across an excellent paper that described the present-day LCMS as three distinct groups. I wish that I could find it again. I believe that it was called “Three Missouris” or something like that…”

    OK, I’m home now, and I found the article you’re looking for.
    It’s in LOGIA, Eastertide 2006, Page 62. “The Three Missouri Synods” by Rev. Dr. David Lee Adams, CSL. I wrote to him and asked for a copy, which he graciously sent to me, and I’m sure you can do the same. I don’t think it fair of me to post it here. While you’re at it, ask him for his paper on “Evangelical Lutherans and Lutheran Evangelicals” (or something like that). Great stuff.

    Happy reading!

    Johannes

  12. @Mark Louderback #59
    “Chuckle. I wish you’d get things right about me. The Women’s Ordination bet that I made—and that no one has collected on—is that no one could give ten names of active pastors who support women’s ordination.”

    I assume you mean LCMS pastors. I’ve read and re-read this thread, and can’t seem to find the terms of your bet. But if you mean LCMS pastors, then you’d simply have to go to Daystar and you can find ten names there. Our stance on the ordination of women is perhaps the biggest obstacle to ELCA congregations turning to the LCMS.

    Johannes.

  13. Jason,

    I know of one active, and one recently retired. I have a third I strongly suspect, but the instant I cough up ONE name, I’ll have all the 8th Commandment people crawling up my butt for being accusatory and slanderous.

    Well…that is a good thing, isn’t it? I mean, it is good that if anyone does support Women’s Ordination that they do so quietly. Undercover. So no-one else knows.

    I’ll bet you could find ten pastors who disagree with our position on communion no problem. I’ll bet you could find ten pastors who disagree with the Synod on any number of things.

    But the fact that there are not ten active pastors who can be named; well, I just think it is a good thing. It shows that we stand firmly against WO.

    Oh, and incidentally, you didn’t exactly specify in this last post about which pastors. Go over to ALPB, and you’l find ten times ten names….

    Chuckle. 🙂 Yes, well, Helen understood the context. I don’t just mean ANY pastors—I mean those in the LCMS.

  14. Johannes :
    @Mark Louderback #59
    “Chuckle. I wish you’d get things right about me. The Women’s Ordination bet that I made—and that no one has collected on—is that no one could give ten names of active pastors who support women’s ordination.”
    I assume you mean LCMS pastors. I’ve read and re-read this thread, and can’t seem to find the terms of your bet. But if you mean LCMS pastors, then you’d simply have to go to Daystar and you can find ten names there. Our stance on the ordination of women is perhaps the biggest obstacle to ELCA congregations turning to the LCMS.
    Johannes.

    It is a response to Helen, and so I didn’t specify that it was LCMS—but yes, it is LCMS. I mean, if it were ANY Lutheran pastor, you figure that would have been won by now.

    I made the bet a number of years ago on LutherQuest and no one was able to win it. So, perhaps it is not as simple as going to Daystar and finding ten names. But, if you want to win the bet, you are more than welcome to try.

    I think that our position on Scriptural authority is just as big of an obstacle. But you are right that WO is an obstacle for them…as it should be I guess…

  15. donna :
    Mark Louderback- You are great. Seriously- how did you end up with these folks???

    Tis all good Donna. I love all of God’s children—and they love me. 🙂 And what is the point of being a grain of sand under the eyelid, a burr under the saddle, a pebble in a running shoe if you don’t put your money where you mouth is.

  16. No, Rev. Louderback, it is NOT a good thing to have pastors who secretly hold beliefs other than those who they have publicly vowed to uphold. You know, that lying and deceiving thing. If a pastor does not have the courage to stand up for what he believes theologically then he ought not be a pastor. At least that is my view.

    By the way, how many names did I give you of pastors and/or congregations that supported women’s ordination just from looking at the past half dozen synodical workbooks?

  17. @Rev. Steven W Bohler #69
    By the way, how many names did I give you of pastors and/or congregations that supported women’s ordination just from looking at the past half dozen synodical workbooks?

    Enough, evidently, to quiet him on the subject, Pr. Bohler.
    Haven’t heard about it in quite awhile.

    My point was “Let the reader beware” of “statistics” (or anything else) emanating from this source. Charming writer, (when he isn’t being sarcastic) but you know the saying: “Trust, but verify.” 🙂

  18. Money, Mark?
    You mean you’ve made a donation to the upkeep of this forum?
    Muchas gracias!

  19. @Mark Louderback #67

    Yes, you are correct that our position on scriptural authority is a big obstacle to an ELCA migration to the LCMS. I did not mean to imply that women’s ordination was the only obstacle/stumbling block. Now that I think about it, undoubtedly scripture authority outweighs women’s ordination as an obstacle, since women’s ordination is based on a low view of scriptural authority. Your point is well taken.

    As far as finding pastors who support women’s ordination, I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to pursue such things. I have no doubt that there’s a lot who do, but remain underground. Pr. Bohler (#69) has raised an important issue with respect to pastors secretly holding beliefs other than they have publicly confessed. I would guess that women’s ordination is but one. Unionism is another, as is supporting heterodox tracts and missions, and these not always in secret.

    Johannes

  20. “Who is an actual moderate then? I guess the person who opposes women’s suffrage…and the conservatives are those who don’t think women should be president…not of congregations, but of America.
    Oh, how I love my Synod!”

    I sure would love that, too! 😀

    Then I could cast myself in the feel good moderate middle!

  21. What does it mean to be a Lutheran? Can a person be a Lutheran and hold solely to the teachings of Scripture and not rules and traditions of men? Some say “No, you gotta do more than Scripture to be a Lutheran.”

    I am confused. I thought the whole BOC was an affirmation that Lutheran means that we “hold solely to the teachings of Scripture”. Isn’t that the case?

  22. What’s interesting is the Lutheran blogs talk about recovering confessionalism in their denominations but only plan to do so by trying to convert existing pastors and “called” workers. They all ignore the wellspring of false doctrine and practice which is established in their colleges and seminaries.

  23. Steven Bohler,

    Good is a relative thing. Would it be good for our Synod to have pastors who never sinned at all? Well, sure. Ok, is it better than to have pastors who teach publicly falsely or pastors who DON’T teach publicly falsely?

    Obviously, we’d rather have no sin—but all things being equal, we take what we can get.

    It is better to have everyone teaching publicly on WO than not.

    Well, you certainly didn’t get 10 names Steven—otherwise you’d have won the bet. 🙂

    Helen

    I haven’t brought up the subject because I proved my point. 10 names. All that is needed.

    And if someone came up with 10, maybe I’d donate to Steadfast. 🙂

    Johannes

    So, you say:

    As far as finding pastors who support women’s ordination, I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to pursue such things. I have no doubt that there’s a lot who do, but remain underground.

    And that is pretty convenient. I could suppose that there are pastors who believe in child sacrifice, they are just underground. Who can prove otherwise?

    The issue came about because you would hear these stats about 100’s of pastors supporting WO. I never found them and gradually came up with the bet.

    No takers yet though…attempts have been made and they have failed. So, for me, it is a word of comfort. Our Synod is so much more united than we give it credit for.

    Mrs Hume

    Is it the case? That to be a Lutheran is to hold to sola Scriptura? Some hold to this. Others think it is not enough to hold to sola Scriptura—we must also adopt the rules of man, otherwise, you are not a Lutheran.

    It is just two different ways of thinking. Our Synod is mostly united, but we seem divided on this.

  24. Thanks, Norm, for fixing the table in #52.

    Since the terms, liberal, moderate, and conservative no longer seem to be PC, one may find the following table helpful for creating new labels to punch up your BJS postings. It’s simple – just select and combine individual phrases from each of Columns 1, 2, and 3, to create a unique label for yourself, your posting opponent, or a person/organization of interest.

    No doubt there are more terms that will be added to each column, so don’t worry about running out of labels. 😉

  25. @Mark Louderback #77

    You probably have drawn the line on liberalism (CoWo, WO, CGM, et al) far enough over that I personally doubt many (or any) would qualifyas a “liberal.” Like Johannes said, many of us have other lives and don’t; have time to go through the list of thousands of LC-MS pastors to critiques them all. And even if we did, we woudl be accused of witch-hunting. So the “convienc” argument can work for many angles.

    As for publicly teaching WO, that can be a sin of commission. On the flip side is the sin of omission, in that poor catechesis, using water down goofy confirmation material, never bothering to open the Small Catechism… or adult new member class, which is so often “are you baptised” and that the end of it, no teaching whatsoever. It is not that we don’t publicly preach WO, it is also we don’t teach what we believe and confess: male only pastors. (and many other things) Of course, I know you will respond that you do teach these things…

    Which bring me back to witch hunting. If we are faithful and dutiful, we should be attending and participating in our congregations. When would have the time to go around to other congregations to catch them in “gotcha” moments? At least with having full time DP’s, they could/should have the opportunity, and authority, to check the condition of the lampstand within his territorial charge. How many pastors would like laity performing such critiques?

    For confessionals, we do not beleive the Scriptures are not enough. We do not requires the BOC IN ADDITION TO the Bible, we subscride the the Confessions BECAUSE they conform to Scripture. They are like a Bible study, to help guide us in the “Scpriture interpreting Scripture” principle. That is one reason why they are replete with passage notations. They help us connect the dots in Holy Writ.

    And while Lutherans may be cohsive and distinct within the broad Christian realm, we are not as clean as you make us sound. We are sitll having issues with the role of women in teh church. ALPB has a current thread about that topic again. I think our hottest battle right now is the worship wars, which may or may not include CGM aspect, depending on how you argue it. So I wouldn’t want to sit back and rest, thinking just because things are calm on the surface, the deep currents are also still. I do not believe they are, if for no other reason Satan is waiting for a more opportune time.

    So how are you going to knock down all my arguments now?

  26. @Mark Louderback #77
    You quoted me as saying:

    “As far as finding pastors who support women’s ordination, I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to pursue such things. I have no doubt that there’s a lot who do, but remain underground.”

    Then you said, “And that is pretty convenient. I could suppose that there are pastors who believe in child sacrifice, they are just underground. Who can prove otherwise?”

    My statement was hardly “convenient”. It was not based on suspicion or hearsay, nor were my comments re: unionism & heterodox missions. As usual, I chose my words carefully, if nuanced, and in this case, stand by them.

    Johannes

  27. @Jason #79

    The term “witch-hunting” is very unfortunate. What is a layperson supposed to do when she/he hears false teaching? How did the laity react when they heard the patently false teaching of the so-called “moderates” from CSL? And what could they do? I remember those days, and I heard the term “witch hunter” applied to those who attempted to remain faithful. The average layperson is very reluctant to take action that may cause division within the congregation. And so, the “mushy” teachings” of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s that filtered into the congregations in the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s were rarely confronted, and we are now paying the price. “Moderates,” indeed! They were/are liberals.

    Johannes

  28. @Johannes #81

    I know, and that’s the problem. How many times to wistle-blowers get vilified, their character attacked. The substance of their argument has validity, so the only way to undermine what truth is in ther eis to endermine to credibility of the person speaking it. It is quite actually legalistic, in what can you prove. Just think of all the lawyer movies out there (A Few Good Men ocme sto my mind right now). “It is not what is true, it is what can I prove.” And the DRP is more of American legalism that truth-seeking ecclesiology.

    So we live with language that gets loaded up with meanings, and those meanings change. And terms get thrown around too easily. (I’ve even done it with a Hitler reference, so I know I am not perfect) I have gotten to the point where I don’t care, and maybe even slightly enjoy, being called a Pharisee, because I am trying to stand for something I believe in, and would like to not back down form insidious attacks. Hey, we have a good role model. Martin Luther was calle da heretic and thing much worse., And yet he perservered, so we can benefit living in an evangelical church body that clings to the cross and Scripture.

    Oh, and I totally apprecitated Matt’s and Carl’s decriptions in posts #37 and #38. Helps wade through the muck.

  29. @Pastor Phil Spomer #56

    Dear Pastor Spomer,

    I know what you are saying about Pannenberg. When he was first introduced to Lutherans in this country, he really sounded conservative. Especially his belief in the resurrection, or at least, what sounds like a belief in the same. So I understand why you are wondering about this.

    After Braaten and Jenson came out with their dogmatics, I did a bit more study of Pannenberg. Then I realized he was not as conservative as appears, though is definitely a brilliant scholar. Here is a brief summary of his more radical ideas:

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    * God is not yet fully real (“Theology and the Kingdom of God” [Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1969], 56-58).

    * God is an energetic force without a personal mind and Jesus is not the only son of his father (“An Introduction to Systematic Theology” [Grand Rapids: Eerdmanns, 1991], 35, 45, 46, 55, 60).

    The following comes from his magisterial work “Systematic Theology,” volume one (Grand Rapids: Eerdmanns, 1991), under the chapter “The World as History of God”:

    * Traditional view of God in the Creeds is subordinationist or Sabellian (p. 334).

    * “The events of history in some way bear on the identity of God’s eternal essence” (p. 334).

    * Augustine erred in De Trinitate (7.1.2) by attributing an ontological concept of essence to God (p. 334).

    * Athanasius erred by making the Son and Trinity immune to all change, thus Arius was correct in seeing change in the Son (p. 333).

    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Similar ideas can be found in Braaten and Jenson’s dogmatics, see 1:163-179, 1:511-543.

    It sounds to me like much of this is indebeted to Hegel’s idea of God, and how God works in history – none of which can find agreement with the God confessed by the Creeds.

    The Lutherans pledged conformity with the doctrine of God in the creeds in AC Article One. Any alteration of that is not just “liberal,” its classically heretical!

    I hope this helps a bit.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  30. Dr. Noland,
    Thank you for the references. I’ll check them out. It’s odd that he would have such cracks because in his writing he often tacks against the zeitgeist with an appeal to a naïve reading of Scripture. It may be that.. could it be? …he’s inconsistent.

    What I appreciate the most from him, is his rejection of the ghettoization of the Church, retreating into mere ethics say, or mere esthetics. So far from what I’ve read, he hasn’t depicted God as transforming, but God as revealing from the future, a future which is proleptically revealed in the resurrection. I’ve found the pattern of God first making a promise, then having a time of waiting and preparation, and finally bringing about a fulfillment, useful both theologically and pastorally.
    God bless

  31. Johannes,

    You said:

    My statement was hardly “convenient”. It was not based on suspicion or hearsay, nor were my comments re: unionism & heterodox missions. As usual, I chose my words carefully, if nuanced, and in this case, stand by them.

    I did not mean to be snarky Johannes. I must have dropped off a smiley face.

    Obviously if people keep silent, we don’t know what they think. I’m glad that we have so many in our Synod who outwardly hold to our line. I think that is a good thing.

    We don’t even have ten names of active pastors in the LCMS. Not bad at all.

    As to what people actually believe—well, who knows. I guess God. Other than that, it is all guess-work. We just don’t know.

  32. Jason,

    You probably have drawn the line on liberalism (CoWo, WO, CGM, et al) far enough over that I personally doubt many (or any) would qualifyas a “liberal.”

    Just to nail something down: is doing CoWo liberal? How? What exactly is “liberal” about it?

    In my opinion, there are really very few actual liberals in the Synod. They are an endangered species.

    Like Johannes said, many of us have other lives and don’t; have time to go through the list of thousands of LC-MS pastors to critiques them all. And even if we did, we woudl be accused of witch-hunting. So the “convienc” argument can work for many angles.

    Hey—a bet is just that: a bet. You don’t have to take the bet.

    It just shows that those who say “Oh, there are 100’s of pastors who support WO,” are really just guessing. There could only be 5. Who knows?

    But—fewer than 10 publicly? Not bad.

    Of course, I know you will respond that you do teach these things…

    You know me well… 🙂 But maybe secretly I hold to WO…

    Obviously this could be an issue—but even if a pastor does not teach it, our Synod is still pretty clear about it.

    When would have the time to go around to other congregations to catch them in “gotcha” moments?

    Of course, the primary source would be Christian News

    When they post stuff on the internet. When they blog. When they post videos. Facebook.

    People tend to say what they believe publicly. It is not that hard to get a read on pastors.

    Plus, remember, I was making this bet to fellow pastors as well—they know a lot of pastors and what they believe.

    You’d think they could pool together—they need fewer than one per district.

    For confessionals, we do not beleive the Scriptures are not enough.

    Not enough for what? For salvation? Sure. Enough to call yourself a Lutheran?

    According to some, you could do every single thing that God tells us to do in Scripture—hold perfectly to every teaching—and that would not be enough to be Lutheran.

    But maybe not you? That’s fine.

    And while Lutherans may be cohsive and distinct within the broad Christian realm, we are not as clean as you make us sound.

    You could not tell a difference between myself and any other pastor on Steadfast from a 100 yards. Our language, our vocabulary, our way of thinking would be identical.

    Shoot, have you seen how often Paul McCain and I agree on this website? You’d think we’d be polar opposites. Not so.

    Are there differences? Yes, I have not said otherwise. But, I’ll tell ya this, at least WO isn’t one of them. Scriptural authority isn’t one of them.

    Issues of women in the church? Sure, but that is a fine parsing. Can women assist in communion? Can a woman be a president of a congregation? That is the level of our disagreement.

    I think our hottest battle right now is the worship wars, which may or may not include CGM aspect, depending on how you argue it.

    Yes, and if this is the worst issue that we have, that is not bad. After all, no where in Scripture does it tell us how we should worship, right?

    So I wouldn’t want to sit back and rest, thinking just because things are calm on the surface, the deep currents are also still. I do not believe they are, if for no other reason Satan is waiting for a more opportune time.

    And nor are we: the Koin is being discussed and worked on and being brought to fruition. What more can we ask for?

    So how are you going to knock down all my arguments now?

    Knock you down! I’m just gonna shower you with love and hugs! MMMMMM!!!!! Now do you agree with me?

  33. @Mark Louderback #86
    no where in Scripture does it tell us how we should worship, right?

    I am not so sure about that. I am collecting scriptures for myself about the topic. Ones like: the mishap with the Ark of the Covenant; the injunctions around the Levitical worship; and the case of the strange fire, to say nothing of Cain and Abel. Then too, bearing in mind David and the shew bread. So I am still in the process of putting it together, but I am not so sure God has not told us how he wants to be worshiped. Considering the Levitical roots of the Lutheran liturgy, I would give it deference until you can be very darned certain from Scripture that you are not leading people astray on that point.

  34. @T. R. Halvorson #87

    TRH I am with you on this. What is actually true is that the Scriptures do not PER SE talk about electronically amplified music that’s culturally associated with illicit behavior.

    If the Scriptures don’t explicitly tell us in 2011 American church language what to do, do we respond by saying “ok we can do whatever we want,” or do we dig into the meanings of the practices we are considering, and the meanings delivered by Scripture?

  35. “According to some, you could do every single thing that God tells us to do in Scripture—hold perfectly to every teaching—and that would not be enough to be Lutheran.”

    I bet you can’t name ten who would say that publicly.

  36. Mrs. Hume :“According to some, you could do every single thing that God tells us to do in Scripture—hold perfectly to every teaching—and that would not be enough to be Lutheran.”
    I bet you can’t name ten who would say that publicly.

    Meaning no disrespect to Mrs. Hume nor Mark Louderback, here we go again. I know, I know, Pr. L. prefaced his comment with “According to some…”. But this is simply playing the pharisee card–this sounds similar to the statement of the 44. “That hide-bound, dogma-ridden Missouri Synod!”

    However, two can play that game: “According to some, it doesn’t matter what you do, just call it ‘adiaphora’ or ‘Christian freedom’, and you can still call yourself a Lutheran.”

    Neither statement is true, accurate, or fair–both play their own version of the pharisee card.

    Johannes

    P.S. BTW, Nice response, Mrs. Hume–very nice.

  37. @Johannes #91

    Hey, I was just funnin’ with him.

    Seriously though, I specifically came for, ““That hide-bound, dogma-ridden Missouri Synod!” aka actually believing the Bible. I tired of folks playing games. I married into the ELCA, but after about 8-9 years, I (and a bunch of life long parishioners) couldn’t take it anymore and left.

  38. @Mrs. Hume #92

    After I re-read my published post, I realized what you had done–my apologies.

    Pr. Louderback and I have enjoyed a rather civil and cordial give and take, and I meant no disrespect to him, either.

    Johannes

  39. I’m waiting for someone to present specific definitions of moderate and liberal. What I have read here is mostly a sarcastic implication that they are both the same.

    You cannot present a coherent argument without proper, and separate, definitions of your subjects. I hope that someone will have the ability, and willingness, to place their evidenced facts on paper and then we can see exactly how you define each. Even the definition of confessional is usually vague and barely defined in your comments and arguments.

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