I recently was trying to find a good exegetical treatment of the Bible’s doctrine of creation, when I found Joel D. Heck’s little booklet In the Beginning, God: Creation from God’s Perspective (Saint Louis: CPH, 2011) (available here for $3.99).
I was pleasantly surprised by this book and can recommend it to anyone looking for a thoroughly Lutheran answer to the question “What does the Bible say about creation?”. The author reviews the basic texts, first in Genesis 1:1-31, then the other creation texts in the Old and New Testament. He gives seventeen reasons why the word “day” means 24 hours in Genesis One. Then he looks at the issues of hermeneutics, and concludes with recent scientific research that supports the Biblical account of creation. He has many excellent supporting arguments in favor of the Biblical account of a “young earth” with a 24 hour-six day creation, including a few arguments I have never heard before. I would recommend this to anyone who is a Bible-believer and who wonders if the traditional Christian view of creation has intellectual credence.
Dr. Heck is a Professor of Theology at Concordia University-Austin, with a Th.D. in Old Testament from our Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis. He represents the many professors at the LC-MS Concordia universities and seminaries who teach the Bible to their students from a perspective of belief, not from skepticism. I know all of our seminary professors personally and can testify that they are all “Bible believers.” Although I only know a few of the theology and religion professors at our CUS universities, the ones I know are “Bible believers” and my impression is that the other theology and religion professors hold the same view. Our church should be deeply grateful to our Lord for these “Bible-believing-Lutheran-professors,” who uphold the Lutheran doctrine and the authority of Scripture, in a day in which both doctrine and Scripture are attacked and mocked.
The synod at its 2013 convention will need to talk about financial support for its universities. The latest Reporter describes some of that discussion and new proposals for a “CUS 2.0″ (see reporter.lcms.org). We also need to keep in mind the latest LC-MS Treasurer’s Report, which states “When the CUS was formed, it was not specifically provided with any funding mechanism to allow it to accomplish the last of its goals (i.e., capitalizing the schools and the System)” (see Lutheran Witness 131 #11 (Nov. 2012): 24; also Reporter 38 #11 (Nov. 2012): 8; and online here). I thought that when the CUS (version 1.0) was originally introduced, the primary purpose was to provide a funding mechanism for capitalization of the schools and the system. I’d say that the synod “got taken to the cleaners” on that promise. Proper capitalization of the CUS and “living within its means” is way overdue.
Although some restructuring, down-sizing of individual campuses, down-sizing of the number of campuses, consolidation, or expense-reduction to match revenue may certainly be in order, the synod should not abandon its universities or let them “run free” of synodical oversight. We have, over the years, invested too much in their campuses, faculties, congregational relations, and other tangible and intangible assets to just let them “wither on the vine” or sever their connections to the LC-MS altogether. As to what should get restructured, cut, merged, expanded, or reduced I can’t say and won’t guess. It is a complex problem for the LCMS Board of Directors and CUS administrators to figure out.
I conclude these thoughts with a brief list of Concordia Publishing House books on creation, supporting a “Bible-believing, Lutheran” position, authored by our professors at our Concordias over the past ninety years. The academic position indicated was at the time of original publication: Theodore Graebner, Saint Louis seminary professor Essays on Evolution (1921); Alfred Rehwinkel, Saint Louis seminary professor The Flood (1951); John Klotz, professor at Concordia, River Forest Genes, Genesis, and Evolution (1955); John Klotz, professor at Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, Modern Science in the Christian Life (1961); Paul Zimmerman, president at Concordia, Seward, editor of Darwin, Evolution, and Creation (1959); Paul Zimmerman, president at Concordia, Ann Arbor, editor of Rock Strata and the Bible Record (1970); Paul Zimmerman, president at Concordia, Ann Arbor, editor of Creation, Evolution, and God’s Word (1972); John Klotz, Saint Louis seminary professor Studies in Creation: A General Introduction to the Creation/Evolution Debate (1985 – excellent overview and still in print!); Angus Menuge, professor at Concordia, Mequon, editor of Reading God’s World (2004); Erich von Fange, professor at Concordia, Ann Arbor In Search of the Genesis World (2006 – still in print); and, Joel D. Heck, professor at Concordia, Austin In the Beginning, God: Creation from God’s Perspective (2011 – recently published, and noted above).
What a great record of outstanding research on the doctrine of creation by our Concordia professors! Thank God for our Concordias!