In this Fall’s edition of “Concordia Seminary,” the magazine of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, it is reported that the professors remind the students that “it’s more about the ‘heart’ knowledge than it is about the ‘head’ knowledge” (p. 21).
This sounds like something one might hear from a Methobapticostal seminary rather than the historic bastion of objective truth and the pure Gospel expressed in the historic liturgy known as Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. It is my personal opinion that the faculty of the St. Louis Seminary, on a whole, is characterized by professors who are either captivated by silly post-modern notions of “contextualization” and/or consumed with making the Scriptures and Lutheranism compatible with the emotion laden spirituality of the American Evangelicals.
The quote in the first paragraph is taken from an article titled “Beyond the four walls.” It is an interview with a second year alternate route student from the Pacific Northwest who according to the article has a “passion for mission” and is on a quest to give people answers and reach them through “their passions and interests.”
I don’t know if the professors actually teach that heart knowledge (whatever that oxymoron might be) is more important than head knowledge. I hope not. The Scriptures do not allow us to pit one against the other. The Gospel is an objective fact of “head knowledge” and is grasped by the Holy Spirit moving our wills to true faith and trust. The real point of this story, and one that is indisputable, is that in the Fall of the year of our Lord, 2011, Concordia Seminary published a fancy, full color rag with the above quote in the tag line and as the heart of the article.
Getting back to the professors, I would not be surprised if they do actually teach this however, since the St. Louis seminary has recently introduced contemporary worship and small group “ministry” into the routine of spiritual exercise at the institution. Both of these tactics are born out of the narcissistic culture of the 1960’s – 90’s in which traditional, noetic rooted denominations have been caving right and left to this Methabapticostal pitting of emotion against reason and practice against doctrine. There are clear signs that Concordia, St. Louis is entering that race to relevance and emotive based spirituality.
We Lutherans certainly know from our Augustinian heritage (Luther was an Augustinian monk) that the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit’s moving of the will to trust and faith is essential to salvation. In this sense, the will (seat of the emotions?) is crucial in the salvation of the individual. In the hands of the liberals of the 20th century (Bultmann and the like) this led to the hermeneutics of “impact” preaching in which the important thing was the existential condition of the individual. To them, it mattered not if the Scriptures were true. They failed to combat the onslaught of the empirical methods of science that undermined the truth of Scripture. Their response was to elevate the “impact” of the preaching of the “word.” They taught that it doesn’t matter if the Gospel is true. What matters is that it moves the hearer to existential meaning. They are wrong and their teaching did great harm to the church.
In the 1970’s courageous and truthful Lutherans such as J. A. O. Preus led Concordia Seminary St. Louis in the charge against such false pitting of emotion against knowledge. They steadfastly defended the common sense truth of the Scriptures.
Today the threat in Confessional Lutheranism is not so much from the “impact” liberals who are retiring and dying out. The threat is from a new generation of people who pit the heart against the head in a psychological way in contrast to the philosophical approach of Bultmann. They favor the heart because of the need to tickle the ears of the current generation which is steeped in emotion and relevance. This is a threat to the Scriptural understanding of the pure Gospel which is true beyond my feelings and even despite my feelings. The Gospel is comforting because it is true that God loves me even when I don’t feel as if He does. The objective fact of the cross remains whether I like it or like it not. The Gospel is comforting because, even when it does not seem relevant to my daily struggles, it is the one thing that I really need, the forgiveness of sins.
Pray that this article from the seminary about the alternate route student is an anomaly and join us in continuing to steadfastly work so that the truth prevail in our beloved LCMS.