Lehenbauer and Harrison Team Up and Put Thrivent $$$ to Good Use for Confessional Theology, by Pr. Rossow

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.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Lehenbauer and Harrison Team Up and Put Thrivent $$$ to Good Use for Confessional Theology, by Pr. Rossow — 10 Comments

  1. International Conference on Confessional Leadership speakers include:

    Larry Rast, President, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN

    Alister McGrath, Anglican Church professor, Kings College, London

    Thomas Yu, President, China Lutheran Seminary, Hsinchi, Taiwan, Inter-Lutheran, associated with XXXA

    Christian Ekong, Archbishop and President, Lutheran Church of Nigeria, LCMS partner church

    Roland Gustafsson, Bishop of the Mission Province in Sweden and Finland (replaced retiring Arne Olsson)

    Ricardo Rieth, Professor of Historical Theology, Escola Superior de Teologia – IELB, São Leopoldo, RS and Universidade Luterana do Brasil, Canoas, RS, Brazil, Igreja Evangelica Luterana do Brasil, LCMS partner church

    Alberto Garcia, Professor of Theology, Concordia University-Wisconsin, Mequon

    Rev. Alexey Streltsov, Rector of the seminary of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC), LCMS partner church

    Jobst Schöne, Bishop Emeritus, SELK, Germany, LCMS partner church

    Joseph Ocholo Omolo, Bishop of the Lake Victoria District of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya, LCMS partner church

    Darius Petkunas, Member of the Consistory of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania, LCMS partner church

    Cristian Rautenberg, President of the Iglesia Luterana Confesional de Chile, LCMS partner church

    John Stephenson, Professor of Historical Theology, Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, Lutheran Church – Canada, LCMS partner church

    Hyun Sub Um, President of the Lutheran Church in Korea, partner church

    Matthew Harrison, President, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

    Janis Vanags, Archbishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL), LCMS partner church

    Gerson Linden, President, Seminario Concordia, Sao Leopoldo, Brazil, Igreja Evangélica Luterana do Brasil, LCMS partner church

    Cynthia Lumley, Deaconess, Associate Director, Deaconess Studies, CTS, Fort Wayne, IN

    James Cerdeñola, President, The Lutheran Church in the Philippines, LCMS partner church

    David Rakotonirina, President of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Antsirabe, Madagascar, the Lutheran Church in Madagascar,

    Amos Bolay, Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia, LCMS partner church

    Dale Meyer, President, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO

    Gemechis D. Buba, Missions Director for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), formerly Director of African National Ministries for the XXXA.

    Roberto Bustamante, Pastor, Argentina Evangelical Lutheran Church and Professor at Seminario Concordia in Buenos Aires, LCMS partner church

    Tilahun Mendedo, President, Concordia College, Selma, AL

    Andrew Pfeiffer, Professor, Australian Lutheran College, the tertiary institution of the Lutheran Church of Australia, North Adalaide, South Australia

    Wakseyoum Idosa, President, Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, XXXA partner church, member LWF

    Joel Humann, Tutor, Westfield House of Theological Studies, Cambridge, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England, LCMS partner church

    J. Samuel, President, the India Evangelical Lutheran Church, LCMS partner church

    Hans-Jörg Voigt, Bishop, Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche (SELK), Germany

    Joel Lehenbauer, Associate Executive Director, Commission on Theology and Church Relations, LCMS

    Banquet Speaker: James Nestingen, NALC, Professor Emeritus, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN

  2. “This is not dialogue. This is proclamation and it is very refreshing to see resources used for real live theology!”

    I’m curious as to what you mean. It sounds as if you believe dialogue is less than helpful. Please explain.

  3. sine,

    Here is what I mean. True theology is discovered by studying the Scriptures and Confessions. It is a deposit of truths to be discovered. Once discovered, they are proclaimed, i.e. taught, preached, etc.

    Dialogue has its place. I am a firm beleiver in Socratic dialogue. But Socratic dialogue works because Socrates knows the truth and asks questions to lead his interlocutors to that same truth.

    Truth does not grow out of dialogue.

    Hope that helps.

  4. @Pastor Tim Rossow #4

    Thank you, pastor Rossow. Now I understand what you meant by that,I think. Ecumenical monologue is the way forward to unity, as you see it.

    Do you think it is possible, though, that those who engage in ecumenical proclamations might possibly have theological blind spots, both wrt their misunderstanding of the position of their conversation partner and their ability to grasp and articulate the fullness of their own tradition? In that case, dialogue could be very helpful….nay necessary.

    But I know little about these matters. Perhaps I am off base.

  5. sine,

    Do I think that Lutherans can learn from others? Yes.

    Do I think that the Lutheran Confessions are entirely true because they reflect the true teaching of Scripture? Yes.

    The Lutheran Confessions cover a lot of theological ground. I would seek to get other Christians to show me where the Confessions are wrong and likewise try to convince them they are true.

  6. But, Pastor Rossow, we are not united in the meaning of portions of the Lutheran Confessions, are we? E.g., do we ordain laity or not? See what I mean wrt blind spots in one’s own theological tradition? So it would seem to me that little progress can be made if monologue is seen as the only or even primary option.

    Another example would be law/gospel distinction and the third use of the law. Pretty important stuff there. But various strains, even within our own small synod, are all over the place on that.

    So I just don’t understand how progress can be made without serious dialogue.

    What am I missing here?

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #7

  7. Later in November, after ELCK Presiding Bishop Walter Obare attended the LCMS-sponsored International Conference on Confessional Leadership, a November 28, 2012, Kenyan newspaper article in The Star, “Bishop denies giving false information” reported:

    An archbishop with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya was yesterday charged with giving false information to a public officer.

    Bishop Walter Obare, 64, allegedly told a public officer in the immigration office that Rev May Edwards [Rev. James Edward May, Jr.], a Missionary from the US, did not have a valid permit to allow him engage in any employment at the church.

    He committed the offence on June 20 at Nyayo House, a Kibera court heard. The clergy denied the charges before Senior Principal Magistrate Teresia Matheka. Through his lawyer, Obare applied to be released on bail saying that his client is elderly and has health problems.

    The lawyer said Obare should be released “as fast as possible”. He applied to be supplied with all the witness statements that the prosecution will use in the trial.

    Last week bishop Obare failed to appear in court to take plea and his plea was deferred to yesterday after his lawyer told the court that the bishop was not feeling well.

    He was released on a bond of Sh100,000 [US$1,163] and a surety of the same amount or upon payment of Sh50,000 [US$581] cash bail. The case will be heard on February 13 next year.

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