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. Good article.

    It sickens me that caring about civil rights and human care, and understanding what other people are thinking, are associated with open communion, ecumenical agenda, women’s leadership in the church, ordination of women, and the homosexual agenda.

  2. Interesting indeed! It has always impressed me over the years that we need to continually assess where we have been and how we reached where we are, to truly understand where we are now standing. Thanks for helping to understand that better. Having missed all those battles of the 60’s and 70’s I have no real background in them.

    I didn’t miss them because I wasn’t a Lutheran, I missed them because I chose not to look outside the congregation in those years, I was too busy, I told myself, but in truth I could have made an effort if I had understood the importance at the time. The churches I was a member of had no real interest on what went on outside of the church, so there was no motivation. I think we still have some of that around today, but not where I now attend.

    Keep giving us the true history, Pastor, hence we will never forget the principles.

  3. Original sin hasn’t gone away and we still live in the end times. The devil still attacks the gospel from without and within. One way or another justification by grace, the incarnation, and the efficacy of the Word will be attacked. Original sin will be denied or turned into the Flacian error. Someone will try to improve upon the means of grace or claim a “word of prophecy.”

    As Luther said in the Smalcald Articles:
    In a word, enthusiasm inheres in Adam and his children from the beginning [from the first fall] to the end of the world, [its poison] having been implanted and infused into them by the old dragon, and is the origin, power [life], and strength of all heresy, especially of that of the Papacy and Mahomet. 10] Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. 11] It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments. For God wished to appear even to Moses through the burning bush and spoken Word; and no prophet neither Elijah nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments [or spoken Word]. 12] Neither was John the Baptist conceived without the preceding word of Gabriel, nor did he leap in his mother’s womb without the voice of Mary. 13] And Peter says, 2 Pet. 1:21: The prophecy came not by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Without the outward Word, however, they were not holy, much less would the Holy Ghost have moved them to speak when they still were unholy [or profane]; for they were holy, says he, since the Holy Ghost spake through them.

  4. With the passage of Res 8-01A ‘Ecclesiastical Supervision and Dispute Resolution’ of the 2004 Houston Convention the “moderates” have already won out, forever.

  5. This is an excellent article by Dr. Noland. I would add one thing. It was the “liberal” and “moderate” Lutherans who actually paid attention to and cared about liturgical rite, reverence AND the Holy Communion at a time when the “confessional” Lutherans ridiculed liturgical Lutheran rite, vestments, etc. as being effeminate, popish, outlandish, and so forth. I am thinking about people like O.P. Kretzmann, B. Von Schenk, Neuhaus and others. If the ‘save the Bible’ crowd had their liturgical way, we would be wearing Geneva gowns and speaking TLH page 5 expect four times a year when we got to speak page 15.

  6. Perhaps the moderates have veered to the left or right. More than likely though, the moderates just want to be left alone and do their own thing.

  7. The “moderates” haven’t gone anywhere; they are just being quiet till BOC Lutheranism declares victory and goes back to sleep.

    Has TCN been disbanded?
    Have we dis-associated from joint activities with —a, which give the impression that we really have no different principles?
    Are the confessional Pastors, running out of their ration of CRM time, being placed in congregations or schools, according to their ability?
    Are the lib DP’s who are not helping being voted out? Or dismissed?
    Are the districts paring their staffs and (largely useless) activities in order to support the IC adequately?
    Are congregations safe from “eminent domain” exercised by the district office?
    Have PLI and other Fuller seminary projects been removed from CSL and CTS? [Are they both teaching the value of Lutheran liturgy to seminarians?]

    [CTX can afford Jerry Kieschnick and the whole synod now knows he doesn’t come cheap. His inner circle are not job hunting either. Do you think they suddenly changed their philosophy or desire to rule as demonstrated in the BRTFxxx, and became confessional?]

    I haven’t read ACELC’s “errors” list, but I could go on…

  8. “Moderate” is a misnomer. DazedStar and their ilk are liberal, heterodox Lufauxrans who can be found occasionally playing liturgical footsie with Hyper-Euros on the ALPB Forum.

  9. @Albert Hughes #4
    Moderates are by definition constantly unsure of themselves and in truth if you scratch a moderate you will find a liberal or in our case an American Evangelical.

    The DRP is a disaster because it is devoid of any directive as to consequences ;for bad behavior even while forgiveness is given. (God forbid we should mix discipline and love) I am confident moderates are lukewarm and we know what God does with that.

    Just try and be direct, forthright and stand squarely on God’s Word with any moderate Pastor and you will hear some of the most convoluted arguments you have ever heard. Usually they begin with “Yes but” or “we must be sensitive to” or “maybe that worked then but”…

  10. mames :
    @Andrew #6
    Moderates are cowards who refuse to call themselves what they are…liberals.

    No, they are liberals who want to claim the ‘center’ position and, by implication, position conservatives as fringe elements. This was a clear and explicit strategic move during the seventies.

  11. mames :
    @Old Time St. John’s #16
    OK, I see. You mean they lied about their true selves in order to more effectively push through their agenda. So in that case they are more deceivers than cowardly. But I consider they are both.

    No, not that they lied. That they tried to claim the middle ground in the debate by using the title ‘moderate’ rather than ‘liberal’. I disagree with their assertion that they had the middle ground, but that doesn’t mean that I think that they necessarily lied. They made a strategic move that I disagree with, though.

  12. Gutless, cowardly deceivers or imperfect brothers in Christ?    Pastor Noland gives a fine balanced assessment.

  13. @mames #10
    Just try and be direct, forthright and stand squarely on God’s Word with any moderate Pastor and you will hear some of the most convoluted arguments you have ever heard. Usually they begin with “Yes but” or “we must be sensitive to” or “maybe that worked then but”…

    Indeed. When you come up against a “confessional” (self defined) who uses those evasions, you know he isn’t, really.

  14. @Old Time St. John’s #18
    …that doesn’t mean that I think that they necessarily lied.

    They lied. Or, if you want to be delicate, they omitted the truth.
    For a few months before conventions, you heard conventional Lutheran phrases. [Pun intended]
    Then it was back to the non denom speakers, all stripes, for any district meeting, membership in willowcreek, an “evangelical” NYG and lovefests with elca.

  15. I grew up in the LCMS, went through the ‘system’, during which the schism happened, went to Seminex, AELC then ELCA, now back to the LCMS. Pr. Dr. Noland, you have described well the Scylla and Charybdis in the left/right of this generation and have helped me sort more of the dilemma. Related to that, a dear colleague, +Pr. Louis Smith, said to an LCMS colleague that the LCMS and the ELCA are approaching the same iceberg but from different directions. The iceberg? Schwarmereism of the left and the right. Is that an apt analysis? Also, this analysis found a more formal confession in the 9.5 Theses and these two paragraphs might speak to this concern (and I think Lou wrote a good deal of it) I would like to know what you think:

    From Article 5, the Holy Spirit and the Means of Grace:

    “We reject the false teaching that the Holy Spirit is given apart from the preached Word and sacraments, that the Holy Spirit is evidenced by human enthusiasm or activism, that the Holy Spirit is to be equated with the dynamic of social, political and spiritual movements. We reject the false teaching that the Church grows through human ingenuity and energy. We reject the false teaching that God’s liturgy is a tool for the advancement of political, cultural or therapeutic programs. We reject the elevation of organizational success, growth in numbers, and political and therapeutic activity to the status of marks of the Church.
    The Word of God is silenced among us and driven out of the Church when the true means of grace — the preaching of the Word and the sacraments — no longer defines, structures and centers the ministry and mission of the Christian congregation.”

    From Article 7, The Unity of the Church Catholic:

    “We reject the false teaching of a North American liberal Christianity that would substitute a politically-devised multi-culturalisrn or inclusivism for the Church’s true catholic unity in the preached Word and sacraments. We reject the false teaching of a North American conservative Protestantism that would substitute an invisible, spiritual experience of fellowship for the concrete reality of the preached Word and sacraments.”

    Very respectfully,
    Pr. Schroeder

  16. Satan always has another trick up his sleeve. If he can’t corrupt the church with liberalism, he can do it just as well with pietism, legalism, sloth, love for money or some other ism.

  17. “He who is ashamed of me and my words, of him will I be ashamed, as will be the Father of lights, when I come in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

  18. Just to clarify something then: was Pres K a liberal, a moderate, or a conservative?

    Because really according to these posts, he was a conservative. Is that the general consensus?

    As one who is actually a moderate in the Synod, I think that what is being described here is a generation that is moving on—that is to say, not really moderates.

    But then, I guess it all just depends on who you see to the right and left of you, as to whether one is a moderate or not.

  19. @Mark Louderback #27
    Speaking for myself alone, I was thinking of the self-styled moderates from the 70’s, not President K. (whose name I can never quite remember how to spell or I would write it out in the proper respectful fashion that is appropriate to our fellowship.)

  20. I grew up in LCMS liberal and left it for ELCA the year before Harrison was elected. It was more about stagnancy in local congregations. I never really worried about the Synod side of things- I thought Keischnick was too conservative, but what really mattered was my congregation. They cut the food pantry, the help for homeless, the local ministries, and senior outreach (because they weren’t financially beneficial) so I left. If I had found an LCMS church that was doing it’s job, I would have joined. I imagine most of the rank-and-file moderates/liberals/missionals are of the same mind. For most members, synod didn’t mean much before Harrison and it doesn’t mean much after. If they have a congregation that they like, they will stay. If not, it doesn’t matter if Chaz Bono is LCMS president, they will leave.

  21. For what its worth, I got hold of the Daystar Reader that was published prior to the 2010 LCMS Convention. Using information given in the list of Contributors (p. vii), I came up with the following age distribution:

    40s 2
    50s 1
    60s 6
    70s 8
    80s 4
    dead 1

    The overall message of this collection of essays was, “Adopt our program. We are the future of the church!”

    The intelligent reader may draw his own conclusions.

  22. @Rev. Fritz Baue #30

    Seminexers still can’t believe they lost? For some o fthe concerns (bashing) we had with CSL recently, I do not think they are near the culture of the 60′ – 70’s. I believe we have moved beyond that era. We may not have solved all our problems completely, but I do think we have moved back from the edge. The radicals and their sympathizers are reaching retirement now, and I don’t see that many coming up to carry the banner. Not enough to remain overly strong.

  23. I have always thought the term “moderate” was totally wrong with respect to these guys. There is nothing moderate about their theology–it is extreme, any way you slice it. The damage they have done and continue to do is irreparable, especially the 50 years of abysmal catechesis they fostered. Why not call this thing what it is? They are liberals in every sense of the word. And they continue to pollute the LCMS.

    Johannes

  24. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Thanks to all who have commented here. I think the conversation has been thoughtful and fruitful so far.

    @Pr. Mark Schroeder #24

    Pastor Schroeder, I knew Louis Smith, at least I was able to meet and visit with him at conferences. He was a great pastor and a great man. The “confessional wing” of the ELCA lost an important voice when he passed prematurely. Being a historian, of sorts, I appreciated especially his knowledge and interest in the Henkels and the Tennesse Synod. I appreciated the 9.5 theses, but it was intended for the ELCA, and was really their business, not mine.

    Regarding Lou’s comment about Schwaermerism of the left and right, I did not hear him say that, but it would be in keeping with his thinking. I don’t think that the challenges that have faced the Lutheran church in America can be reduced to just one factor, theologically or otherwise. I have to rely on observers within the ELCA, WELS, ELS, etc. for assessments of what is happening there; but I know the LCMS from the inside out, as well as historically, so I can make some comment there.

    If I remember correctly, David P. Scaer once made the comment to me that we really owe LCMS’s orthodoxy over such a relatively long period of time to its German-American cultural and ethnic loyalties. I say “relatively long period” by comparing the LCMS’ one-hundred-seventy-four years (1847-present), to the Electoral Palatinate Lutheran Church, which only lasted thirty-one years (1530-1581) and the Brandenburg Lutheran Church, which only lasted sixty-three years (1530-1613) before becoming Reformed.

    Mark Granquist, professor at Luther Seminary-Saint Paul, has been doing some important work in the area of the ethnic identity of the ELCA predecessor synods. I think his work is beginning to point out how their ethnic identities, as long as they prevailed, also was the “glue” that kept people’s minds and hearts attached to Luther. When the ethnic identity began to fade, loyalty to Luther also faded.

    What attracts people away from Luther is whatever is fashionable, impressive, or supported by wealth at the time–and in our country that is usually some form of Reformed or Liberal theology.

    Loyalty to Luther can be subverted by portraying him as some sort of national hero (most common in the Germanies), as someone who elevated the Gospel over the dead letter of Scripture (the tactic taken by Ritschl and the neo-orthodox), as a Renaissance humanist (the tactic taken by some schools of Luther research in America) or by discrediting him. But if you read a lot of his writings, his Scriptural theology, with its center in Christ and the Gospel, comes through loud and clear.

    The Lutheran confessions are simply Luther’s theology put into a succinct and orderly presentation. It is much easier to read the Book of Concord than all 54 volumes in the American Edition. So those churches and theologians who emphasize loyalty to the Lutheran Confessions are, really, calling for loyalty to Luther’s theology.

    So, in summary, the challenges to the Lutheran churches in America is not specifically “Schwaermerei,” but the theology of whatever other Christian churches are popular, ascendant, or powerful at the time, usually the Reformed and Liberal types. The antidote is for both pastors and laymen to become better acquainted with Lutheran theology, first, in the Lutheran confessions, second, then, in Luther’s own writings.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  25. Don’t be deceived, liberalism in the LCMS isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The issues may shift a bit, but they will not go away. The people in the upcoming generations have been exposed to a lot of the junk propagated in their own churches throughout a childhood, and those attitudes are not going to be easy to get rid of, it’s simply the way they have known things to be their entire lives.

    I go to CUNE, and there is no shortage of liberal ideologies in people in this generation. The people who will be teaching in Lutheran schools, the DCEs, the laity, pre-seminarians – many of these groups have grown up knowing nothing but contemporary worship, open communion, homosexuality becoming more and more normal, and all loads of other issues. There are many who have not fallen prey to a liberal agenda, but there are just as many who have or more.

    Some interesting things to note at CUNE: The contemporary student lead “Praise!” service (student bands, student lead devotions (gag)) is quite popular, and only becoming more popular. While fewer people (proportionally to the growing numbers of students) are attending the traditional student lead “Evening Prayer” services (prayer services from LSB, hymns from LSB, organ, chanting). A lot of athletic coaches require their athletes to attend chapel, however the only day they require is Friday (Friday chapel is contemporary chapel with a band). A lot of people want to move the location of chapel from the usual location, to a conference room because it is nearer the cafeteria and they think more people will come. Lots of groups on campus will schedule around “Praise!” (it’s at 9pm on weds) so people can go to that; however groups rarely schedule around “Evening Prayer” (it’s at 9:45pm on tues and thurs). Also, the past couple years there have been a lot more women groups centered around Unfading Beauty, which in my limited exposure to it, it dabbles in flowery feel-good feminism. However, my biggest fear is the general view of worship that most students hold. It’s no longer “God foremost acts, and we respond” it is now “we respond to God.” The emphasis is not on God, it is on us.

    Don’t be deceived, liberalism under the cover of moderates is plenty healthy. The next generation knows little except luke-warm… Satan isn’t going to make this any easier anytime soon. (Thankfully we already know who wins at the end. (God. Duh.))

  26. Were that is so…..”The Ever-Diminishing “Moderate” Minority in the LCMS” First, using the term Moderate is completely inaccurate. So called moderates are nothing but liberals. I will use a political analogy to better explain. Say that a radial leftist such as George Soros, Ralph Nadar or Dennis Kuchinich run as an independent candidate. Obama will position himself as the Moderate. (Even though Obama is a radical left wing liberal). Obama will position himself in the center as the thoughtful, rational, sober minded candidate who is not tied to ideology. He will say that the independent candidate is too radical and leftist and the Rebuplican candidate is too radical and conservative. That leaves Obama as the moderate centerist candidate. Thus the liberals from the 1960’s as well as today’s liberals try to position themselves in the middle as moderates. They will say, we are not as radical and left as those in the ELCA and neither are we as close minded and ridgid as the conservatives/confessionals in the LCMS. But they are liberal inspite of their claims to be moderates. The author of the DayStar article made one observation that I would agree with. Those trained by Piepkorn, Caemmerer, Krentz, the Dankers and Franzman are either retiring or dying off. But just because those trained by such men are becoming fewer does not mean the theology of those men is dying. Take for example in the LCMS those who belong to the SSP or STS. They have largely drunk the Piepkorn Kool-aide. You see the liberal theolgoy of those men today in many forms, those who support women’s ordination, those who support women elders, lectors, etc., those who support open communion and those who support the homosexual agenda (CUC for example).

    No the liberals are not ever-diminishing. A new generation of liberals who call themselves moderates (e.g. Louderback) has arisen. They have gone underground for a time. They have become the termites who are eating away at Lutheranism in the LCMS.

  27. A new generation of liberals who call themselves moderates (e.g. Louderback) has arisen.

    Who-hoo! We’re alive!

    I love the fact that in the LCMS, someone who holds to a six/seven day creation, inerrant word, virgin birth, and a real resurrection is a liberal! You gotta love it.

    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! 🙂

  28. Realistically speaking, there is hardly one single group of moderates.

    Firstly, the amount of downright liberal pastors in the LCMS is very very small. If there are any who actively support the whole range of liberal ideas from the historical criticism of scripture to gay marriage, then I certainly have never met them in almost half a century of being in the LCMS.

    Many of those who might adopt the term “moderate” from themselves do so because they hold to a more liberal view on a handful of issues rather than because they are liberals in disguise.

    In many cases they have adopted those views because the more confessional elements within the synod have appeared to them to have failed to have provided an adequate answer to certain issues or have failed to evidence compassion for one or another group of people or situations.

    Then there are the moderates who might call themselves that because they want to find a middle ground between the more liberal and the conservative. These tend to search for compromises in doctrine and behavior, choosing the path they believe will make the most people satisfied.

    Finally there are the moderates who choose that label because they admire the compassion of those who push more liberal agendas but feel that compassion is expressed in a misguided manner and who admire the solid answers given by the confessionals but feel that the confessionals are lacking in compassion. As such, they earnestly try to find a way to combine the best of both without compromise.

    I really doubt we can properly define one specific group as “moderate.”

    As such, the name calling here is uncalled for and ridiculous

  29. Of the five different groups listed in #37 which may seem to possibly fall under the definition of “moderate”:

    A “moderate” doesn’t include the first two categories of Lufauxrans because they are simply liberal, whether they hold a “whole range” or a “handful” of liberal ideas.

    The third category is simply a category of ignorance or stupidity, as the case may be; but it is not “moderate”

    The fourth and fifth categories are not “moderate” but liberal, since it is the same as taking equal amounts of or mixing food prepared at an elegant, five-star restaurant and garbage scraped from the bottom of a dipsy dumpster. The result is garbage, not balanced, orthodox food.

  30. @Mark Louderback #36
    Mark, I think of you not as a “liberal” but as a grain of sand under the eyelid, a burr under the saddle, a pebble in my running shoe.

    Does that make you feel better?
    🙂

  31. Some of my best friends are moderates…er, Liberals…er, Lutherans.

    Whatever….

    J

  32. @ Mamres
    Just try and be direct, forthright and stand squarely on God’s Word with any moderate Pastor and you will hear some of the most convoluted arguments you have ever heard. Usually they begin with “Yes but” or “we must be sensitive to” or “maybe that worked then but”…

    I wonder if you can cite some instances in which “moderate” pastors have denied your stand on God’s Word?

    Also, how do you define “American Evangelical.” Why does that seem to sound like a derisive charge in your comment? Just curious.

  33. And another thing:

    Nobody, but nobody, will EVER describe BJS as “moderate.”

    No way, no how, nosirree!

    Johannes (hee, hee, hee!)

  34. @Rev. David Mueller #39

    Mark, I think of you not as a “liberal” but as a grain of sand under the eyelid, a burr under the saddle, a pebble in my running shoe.

    Sniff…I promised myself I wouldn’t cry…but those are the sweetest words I’ve ever read on Steadfast…sniff…won’t cry, won’t cry…

  35. @Matt
    I agree with you. The only thing I would “change” if your comment were my own concerns: “These tend to search for compromises in doctrine and behavior, choosing the path they believe will make the most people satisfied.”

    I know that in my own church (moderate) the path is chosen that we believe will maintain the Lutheran doctrine of the Gospel and still reach out to the most unsaved people rather than “…choosing the path they believe will make the most people satisfied.”

    Thanks again for your very balanced comment on the situation.

  36. @Johannes #42

    Well, I believe that the majority of the posters on Steadfast agree that women can hold political office, so they would in fact be categorized as moderate.

    Actually, according to Carl V, because of this liberal view they hold, they are not even moderates, but actually liberals!

    So, I guess you are right…

  37. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Perhaps I can add some clarity, for the sake of those ignorant of 20th century LCMS history.

    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.

    Since these persons are, indeed, retired, retiring, and passing to glory, it is not proper to continue to use that term. Here we see that the term “Moderate” was really the label for a political party of a certain generation, and was not a universal type. Historically, the terms “Tory” or “Whig” were real political parties – to use those terms today of living people is anachronistic, and can be considered insulting.

    Nor is it helpful to categorize someone as a “Liberal,” unless they agree to that term, or affirm a “Liberal Protestant” theology (e.g., Schleiermacher, Ritschl, Harnack, von Hofmann, Barth, Pannenberg, etc.).

    Charles Porterfield Krauth had a helpful description of the differences between conservative and liberal (i.e., progressive) stances in his “Conservative Reformation and Its Theology” (reprint, CPH, 2007). President Larry Rast quotes a key passage in his introduction, pp. xxvii-xxviii, on this matter. It is definitely worth reading, both the book and that passage.

    I think it is also past time for us to stop using “conservative” and “liberal” labels IN A GENERAL WAY, since they are almost always used pejoratively, and very rarely descriptively, or helpfully. The terms could still be used SPECIFICALLY, e.g., “conservative view of womens’ roles in a congregation” or a “liberal view of communion fellowship.” That is closer to the truth, since many people seem to have a mixture of both conservative and liberal views on various subjects, for any number of public or personal reasons.

    In summary, the term “moderate” had a historical use, but now it is meaningless except for the few who are still living and who were part of that history.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  38. @Martin R. Noland #47
    “I think it is also past time for us to stop using “conservative” and “liberal” labels IN A GENERAL WAY, since they are almost always used pejoratively, and very rarely descriptively, or helpfully.”

    I agree. Also: in political debate and argument, conservative and liberal does not necessarily translate into theological debate. For instance: in a Bible study, I referred to Baptist theology as being “liberal”, which shocked a brother who had been a Baptist and he said,”No, Pastor, there conservative.” I clarified what I had said on purpose to make the point that the anabaptists were “liberal”, even radical in their ejection of the Baptism of infants in their theology and practice but these days in their politics on the whole…you get the point.

  39. @Mark Louderback #46

    Well, there’s moderates, and there’s moderates. As Dr. Noland has described those who called themselves “moderates” (#47), they were hardly theological moderates. My use of “moderate” above (#42), was intended to have more than one meaning, if you get my drift. Altho I certainly am OK with women holding public office, I don’t consider myself a moderate by any definition. It’s too bad the language got hijacked.

    As far as BJS is concerned, I think I made my point.

    Johannes

  40. Dr. Noland,
    I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. I would label myself a conservative, even though you say the use of such word is not helpful. I am conservative because I want to conserve the Scriptual belief and practice and want to conserve the historic Lutheran belief and practice. As a conservative I want to conserve the historic liturgy as opposed to blended/contemporary worship. As a conservative I want to conserve the Biblical and Lutheran postion vis a vis Holy Communion, in other words no open communion. As a conservative I want to conserve the Scriptual position on women in the ministry, that is women are not to be pastors. As a conservative I want to conserve the Lutheran and Scriptual position that we do not join in ecumenical worship (Yankee Stadium, et. al.). These are just a few things that make me a conservative and thus to call me a conservative is accurate.

    Just because the “Moderates” used that label for themselves does not mean that we should perpetuate the myth. I call a spade a spade. That is why I used the term “Liberal” since that is a far more acdurated discription then the term “Moderate”. Continuted use of the term “Moderate” is not helpful and only adds to the confusion. Whether in theology or politics why are liberals afraind/ashamed to call themselves liberal? So called moderates today are merely liberals in sheeps clothing.

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