The 2010 LCMS convention asked the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) to work with the synod president to promote confessional Lutheran theology worldwide. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans provides boat loads of money via grants each year for the major Lutheran church bodies. It pains me to think of how those funds have been wasted by past administrations on the latest and greatest church growth wind. On the contrary President Harrison and CTCR head Dr. Joel Lehenbauer have put at least some of those funds to good use this year by putting on a brilliant theological conference with renown confessional speakers from around the world. (Click here for more details.)
This is no model theological conference. This is “the” model theological conference. There is no sitting around at tables hoping that talk somehow turns into unity. This conference has participants listening to theologians teach. They are teaching about witness, mercy and life together, President Harrison’s threefold emphasis for the synod. They are learning what it means first to honor our call to witness to the Gospel as it is so beautifully articulated in our Confessions; second, ways we might show mercy to those in crisis and great need; and, third, how to encourage one another in life together as Lutheran Christians.
This is not dialogue. This is proclamation and it is very refreshing to see resources used for real live theology!
Harrison and Lehenbauer make an interesting team. One is from the Fort and the other from the Arch City. I know Dr. Lehenbauer a little better, having studied with him when he was at the St. Louis Seminary back in the days when it was better upholding its reputation as a traditional, liturgical and conservative institution. My favorite memory of Lehenbauer was his penchant for loud music. It was his custom to blast the music while he was reading the most dense and subtle theology texts. Anyone care for a little of The Who’s Baba O’riley while reading Schaller’s Christology. (If you don’t know The Who and John Schaller, consider yourself a mere post-modern Lutheran.)
In my estimation, working with Harrison has been good for Lehenbauer and the CTCR. From time to time over the years Joel and I crossed paths and did a little catching up. We even had an intimate and serious theological meeting at the SOB (Synod Office Building) three or four years ago with a few other noteworthy guests in attendance. I didn’t always recognize Joel in the days when he served as the Assistant to the Director of the CTCR in the Kieschnick days but reports out of St. Louis now and this conference are proof that he is the seriously confessional student I used to know at sem who could run theological circles around me then and still can if the right music is blaring in the background.
Kudos to Harrison and Lehenbauer for sending out daily updates on this conference via email to all rostered church workers in the LCMS. That is how I was alerted to this conference and I am grateful to them both and the entire staff of the CTCR and the Harrison administration for putting this on.