Remembering Robert

Dr. Robert Preus

Dr. Robert Preus

Last month marked the silver anniversary of the “retirement” of Dr. Robert Preus from the presidency of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. On July 27, 1989 the Fort Wayne Board of Regents opened its summer meeting with a devotion led by Preus. After the devotion, they dismissed him from the meeting during its executive session, and then notified him that he was terminated. This action was later reviewed by the LCMS Commission on Appeals, which handed down its decision on December 3, 1991 that the “Board of Regents did not properly and honorably retire Preus” (see Commission on Appeals official record, May 31, 1992, p. 12).

After three years, in which some persons in the LCMS tried to expel Preus from the synod, the LCMS Commission on Appeals ruled that “The Plaintiff’s charges against Robert D. Preus, Counts One through Eight, are dismissed. The Decision of the Indiana District Commission on Adjudication terminating the membership of Dr. Preus in the LCMS is reversed and held for naught” (see Commission on Appeals official record, May 31, 1992, p. 56). According to the bylaws in those days, the Commission on Appeals decision was final. So the truth is that Dr. Robert Preus was forcibly removed from his office and call for no just cause, and he was innocent of all charges ever made against him.

Twenty-five years gives a measure of hindsight for all involved. The question that has never been answered is: Why was Robert Preus removed from office? The following is my answer, which historians will be able to test against the record, as it presently exists, and as it will eventually become available through the unsealing of official documents and study of the same.

Robert Preus was one of the “Faithful Five” who cooperated with the synod during its investigation of false doctrine at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis (ca. 1970-1975). The other members of the “Faithful Five” included seminary professors Richard Klann, Martin Scharlemann, Lorenz Wunderlich, and Ralph Bohlmann. These were the same professors who stayed at the seminary when the rest of the seminary faculty went on strike in January 1974 (see Paul Zimmerman, A Seminary in Crisis [St Louis: CPH, 2007], 123). Subsequently the faculty majority formed the “Seminex” seminary, which later became the seminary of the AELC splinter synod.

It is no surprise that, after the “walkout” crisis, the “Faithful Five” had to endure the life-long enmity of the Seminex faculty, their students, and their supporters in the LCMS. The Tietjen-Seminex supporters in the LCMS included not only those Seminex students who were illegally ordained by LCMS district presidents, but also most of the Seminex students who were later accepted into the LCMS by colloquy—as well as over a thousand pastors and congregations who had supported Tietjen from the beginning of the “struggle.”

John Tietjen complained, with a great deal of justification, that 1200 congregations—and their pastors—had supported him in the struggles in the early 1970s, but only 250 left to form the AELC synod (see John Tietjen, Memoirs in Exile [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990], 269). This left 950 congregations still in the LCMS—with their pastors—who were sympathetic to the Seminex faculty, to John Tietjen, and to their quasi-Lutheran theology. These were the same congregations and pastors who had been extremely active in synodical politics in the 1960s and early 1970s. So it would be no surprise if the “Faithful Five,” including Robert Preus, suffered various attacks and reprisal from members of the LCMS throughout the rest of their lives for their faithful and steadfast stand in support of true Lutheran theology.

If the persons who had terminated Robert Preus, and who had brought charges against him, had openly identified themselves as Tietjen-Seminex supporters, then the causes for his removal from office would have been patently clear. But, in fact, one of the plaintiffs in the case against Preus was another member of the “Faithful Five,” President Ralph Bohlmann. So obviously Preus’ removal was not a case of “Seminex reprisals”; or was it?

Even before things started “heating up” at Concordia Seminary in 1970, Robert Preus had made his mark as an indefatigable defender of orthodox Lutheran theology. Because of his deep reading in the orthodox Lutheran theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, he knew that one of the most insidious threats to orthodox Lutheran theology was syncretism. While the LCMS was considering church fellowship with the American Lutheran Church, Preus gave a lecture entitled “To Join or Not to Join: A Study of Some of the Issues in the Question of Joining with the ALC in Pulpit and Altar Fellowship” (given at the North Dakota District Convention of the LCMS, 1968). After the LCMS declared fellowship in the summer of 1969, Preus gave an essay asking for reconsideration of that action titled “Fellowship Reconsidered” (given at the Pastor’s Conference of the Wyoming District of the LCMS, April 13-15, 1971; printed by Mount Hope Lutheran Church, Casper, Wyoming). None of Preus’ Saint Louis colleagues warned the synod of this particular syncretistic threat, to this degree.

What is the matter with syncretism? Syncretism happens when a Lutheran church-body is not willing to criticize or condemn the false theology in another church-body, but instead silently approves that false theology by joining in various types of “relationships” or “fellowships” with that heterodox church. The threat of syncretism to the church was clearly stated by the orthodox Lutheran theologians. This can be found, e.g., in Johann Baier’s Compendium Theologiae Positivae, Vol. 3, ed. C.F.W. Walther (Saint Louis: Concordia Verlag, 1879; reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Emmanuel Press, 2005), 665-672 [section 37]. The danger of syncretism to the Lutheran faith was reiterated “loud and clear” by Walther (see his Foreword to the 1868 Lehre und Wehre) and by Francis Pieper (see his Christian Dogmatics, Vol. 3 [St Louis: CPH, 1953), 425-427). The same warning about syncretism was part of Robert Preus’ life work, in the tradition of the orthodox Lutherans and Baier, Walther, and Pieper.
In addition to taking a very public stand on the matter of syncretism, Robert Preus also became involved with some of the organized conservative groups in the LCMS. As with many others, he found this to be the only way to counteract the influence of the liberal political groups in the LCMS that were trying to change its theology and practices. He took a leading role in the group known as “Faith Forward—First Concerns,” starting in 1965. He also served for a time as an associate editor for the magazine Affirm, which was published by the organization Balance, Inc. starting in 1971. Both groups tried, with some success, to influence the LCMS so that its orthodox Lutheran theology and practice would be preserved. None of Preus’ Saint Louis colleagues were involved with the organized conservative groups, to this degree.

Why was Robert Preus terminated from his call in 1989? By comparing him to the other “Faithful Five” who did not experience the same reprisals, we can conclude that his “difference” was: 1) his faithful stand against syncretism and 2) his involvement, during a critical time in the synod, with the organized conservative groups “Faith Forward-First Concerns” and with the Affirm magazine of Balance, Inc.. These differences were the reason for his being singled out for “punishment” by the Tietjen-Seminex sympathizers, even though the actual antagonists and plaintiffs against Preus appeared to be nominally conservative.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? I think there are a few. First, the LCMS fooled itself into thinking that the “battles were over” in 1976 when the “moderate” party in the synod left to form the AELC. After the AELC formation, there were still over a thousand congregations and pastors in the LCMS who loved Tietjen and Seminex, and who hated Robert Preus and other conservative leaders. Some of those guys have yet to retire today—almost forty years later. Second, and related to the first, the “taking down” of a conservative leader in this fashion gives evidence that the LCMS was still somewhat moderate in the late 1980s. “Moderate,” at least, compared to the theology and practice of Walther and Pieper.

Third, Robert Preus’ case teaches present and future leaders in the LCMS what they might experience if they publicly and faithfully support the theology and practice of the Book of Concord. They might experience opposition, reprisals, termination, expulsion, and even worse. They may be spared “punishment” like this, but no one should be surprised if it comes. Fourth, divisions in the church that lead to such unchristian behavior, like reprisals and personal attacks, do have a positive role: “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval” (1 Corinthians 11:19).

You can best remember Robert Preus by reading his theological books and articles. If you want to learn more about Robert Preus and his works, you can click on the following links: LOGIA 5 #3 (print for $5; PDF for free: ); LOGIA 1 #1, containing Robert Preus’ sympathetic review of John Tietjen’s memoirs (no print versions left; PDF for free ); 1999 Congress on the Lutheran Confessions, “The Theology and Life of Robert David Preus” $15.95; Preus’ sermons “Preaching to Young Theologians,” $12.95; “Church and Ministry Today,” with Preus’ essay on the doctrine of the call, $16.95; “Propter Christum,” the festschrift for Daniel Preus, which includes an essay about the history of the Luther Academy, which was founded by his father Robert Preus, $34.99, also in PDF for $19.99; “Doctrine is Life,” essays of Robert Preus on Scripture, includes a bibliography of his works, $34.99; “Doctrine is Life,” essays of Robert Preus on Justification and the Lutheran Confessions, $34.99; and other titles by Robert Preus at


Remembering Robert — 27 Comments

  1. Pastor Noland,

    Thank you for this article. It is so great to read such a well-written account of a confessing theologian. When I was a boy I knew him as grandpa, but as I have grown he has been a great teacher to me through his writings, as well as a great encouragement through his faithful witness to the truth of God’s Word.

  2. Pastor Noland,
    Thank you for once again recording for us younger pastors the history of the recent past. It helps explain a lot.
    Jon C. Olson

  3. Rev. Dr. Robert Preus was a man of character. He made a steadfast stand for what was/is good, right, and salutary.

  4. Dr. Preus was (still is!) a man of true Christ-like character.

    He was my very first prof in my very first class at Sem. Scaer and Marquart lauded the man without reservation. Scaer – did so about Dr. Preus personally to me.

    In the proper sense, I revere the man for his forthrightness and direct honesty, and especially for his orthodox theology. If one knows the personalities of the Sem profs in the early to late 80’s – that he could command respect from all but a very few renegades – especially considering some of the giants of theology there like Marquart and Scaer . . .

    Says much – it says very much, and Father Noland, I salute you for such a fine tribute. You were there back then – gaining your own reputation as a theological scholar. Such a tribute as the one you wrote above is testimony to your credibility, and that of the men who taught us both.

    Pax – jb

  5. “After the AELC formation, there were still over a thousand congregations and pastors in the LCMS who loved Tietjen and Seminex, and who hated Robert Preus and other conservative leaders. Some of those guys have yet to retire today—almost forty years later.”

    Yes, and at least one of them still serves as DP. Who knows how many other new pastors were “raised” by those persisting in the LCMS whose theology would be a much better fit in the ELCA…

    Robert Preus personally drove home for me the completely one-sided grace of God — we can’t even take credit for not resisting!

    Favorite quote: “How can you be Confessional if you don’t confess?”

  6. I feel an understanding of Dr. Robert Preus cannot be complete without an examination of the larger world in which he lived.

    The below is a small start.

    J.A.D. Preus: Theologian, Churchman, or Both? Lawrence R. Rast Jr.
    I. Introduction: The Death of “Old Missouri”?

    ………………The fact is, however, that even the best web has its asymmetries. And here I cannot speak to Jack, but I can to Robert. He was a fine historian and knew that no system was ever perfectly applied. He convinced me of the perfect ideal, but he also taught me how to live with the historical realities. And so, even the most perfect web must have its asymmetries if the web is going to work. The spider cannot connect all the pieces and parts of the web without having to bend the perfect frame somewhat to the circumstances in which it is being built. But even as it does so, it constructs a piece of functional beauty……………,2.pdf

  7. Robert Preus, Ph.D., D. Theol.

    What is a Lutheran? What is the nature of subscription to the Lutheran Confessions? These two questions which are often considered together and which are as inseparably related as Siamese twins have become increasingly important in our day when Lutheranism is fighting for its identity and life……………………

    The first inadequate approach to the Lutheran confessions today is to relativize them historically.

    2. The second inadequate approach to the Lutheran confessions today is to relativize them reductionistically.

    3. The third inadequate approach to the Lutheran confessions today is to ignore or avoid the issue of subscription.

    4. The fourth inadequate approach to the Lutheran confessions today is bombastically to reject subscription.

    What then is the nature of confessional subscription? Confessional subscription is a solemn act of confessing in which I willingly (AC, Conclusion: FC SD XII,40) and in the fear of God (FC Epit. XII,13; SD Source and Norm,20) confess my faith and declare to the world what is my belief, teaching and confession. This I do by pledging myself with my whole heart (bekennen wir uns; amplectimur; toto pectore amplectimu1′; FC SD Rule and Norm, 4-7) to certain definite, formulated confessions. I do this in complete assurance that these confessions are true and are correct expositions of Scripture (aus und nach Gottes Wort; weil sie aus Gottes Wort genommen und darin fest und wohl gegriindet ist; ibid.5,10). These symbolical writings become for me permanent confessions and patterns of doctrine (BegrifJ und Form; forma et typus. ibid. 1; einhellige, gewisse, allgemeine Form der Lehre; ibid.10) according to which I judge all other writings and teachers (wofem sie dem jetzt gemeldeten Vorbild der Lehre gemiizz. ibid. 10). Confessional subscription is not some sort of individuali,%20Robert%20-%20Confessional%20Subscription.pdf

  8. I’d recommend “Church and Ministry Today”, “The Theology and Life of Robert David Preus” (essays by other writers), “Getting into the Theology of Concord,” “Inspiration of Scripture”, “Justification and Rome”, and “The History of Post-Reformation Lutheranism I and II.” There are also two books of his essays “Doctrine is Life.”

    I think I’ve read all of his books except the Preaching to Young Theologians book.

    Another comment from Dr. Preus I’ve heard on tape (“Luther’s Theology of the Cross”). “Have you ever heard that one? Oh boy! Every time some Missouri Synod pastor gets shoved out he didn’t have people skills, which means he didn’t conform to the world. Well, pardon my dogmatism.”

    Some papers by Dr. Preus available at his son Pr. Rolf Preus’ website:

  9. To begin to understand the Man one has to begin to understand his mentors.

    PROFESSOR HERMAN AMBERG PREUS DIED ON MAY 17, 1995, IN HIS NINETY-NIETH YEAR. I AM HONORED AND I Appreciated deeply being asked by the editors LOGIA to comment in its pages in grateful memory of Her­man Preus.

    Herman Preus was not only my uncle, but my teacher, my mentor, and my friend. He was a cultured gentle­man, humble and self-effacing, a pious and loving husband and father and uncle and friend. LOGIA, however, has not asked me to offer personal comments about Herman Preus the man, but rather to say something in memoriam about Herman Preus as a theologian and teacher of the church.

  10. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Thanks for your tributes to Dr. Preus, and all your comments so far!

    Thanks, Mark for your link to the superb article by Dr. Rast in your comment #6 (@Mark Huntemann #6 ). As you say, it is good to see some of the background to the events in which both J.A.O. and Robert Preus were enmeshed. I also highly recommend that folks read: Paul Zimmerman, A Seminary in Crisis (St Louis: CPH, 2007) for the full history on the 1970s controversies.

    Thanks, Mark, also for your reference to Herman Amberg Preus at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, MN in your comment #9 (@Mark Huntemann #9 ). Herman Preus was one of Hermann Sasse’s correspondents; and one of the last holdouts of orthodox Lutheranism in the synods that merged into the ELCA.

    You can find some letters from/to Herman Preus and Sasse in the recently published two volume set: Hermann Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors, 2 vols. (St Louis: CPH, 2013 & 2014). I have finished reading the first volume and am slowing getting through the second, with much edification and benefit. Many thanks to CPH and to LCMS President Harrison for his work on publishing the Sasse corpus!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  11. @Tim Schenks #8
    Another comment from Dr. Preus I’ve heard on tape (“Luther’s Theology of the Cross”). “Have you ever heard that one? Oh boy! Every time some Missouri Synod pastor gets shoved out he didn’t have people skills, which means he didn’t conform to the world. Well, pardon my dogmatism.”

    You mean, he wasn’t a “schmoozer”? Or a politician? He believed that ‘the people of God’ and more particularly, a brother in clericals, would act as a Christian?

    Yes, watched the “shove” again last month! The behavior of the church can hardly be distinguished from “the world” these days.

    It’s enough to drive an idealist to cynicism! 🙁

  12. May we never forget that Robert Preus was a good bowler.
    He was on the faculty team at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
    We had about 8 teams to 10 teams each year and during
    my second year at the sem our married men’s team won
    the championship. However, Preus was the best faculty
    bowler with an average in the mid 170’s.

  13. removed at request of author.

    I also removed further comments talking about the same comment.

  14. As I recall the events of the 1980’s leading to Robert Preus being “retired” it struck me as if Ralph Bohlman had a real vendetta against Preus. Looking back, I wonder if this was the time period when Ralph’s theology was changing. Ralph was one of the “Faithful Five” but there was always some doubt about him. I remember people saying that he just happened to be on leave at the time of the Seminex mess and basically stayed on the sidelines in the fight. Ralph went form one of the “Faithful Five” to a Jesus First champion.

  15. To the list of accolades for Robert Preus I’d add the fact that he was also known, read, and widely quoted throughout many other non-Lutheran denominations such as the Reformed. It’s not often that a Lutheran theologian leaves such a wide foot print, but he did.

  16. Dear George,

    Thanks for your comment #17 (@George in Wheaton #17 ).

    Dr. Preus was often called upon by the conservative Reformed theologians in America to represent the orthodox Lutheran view, particularly the historic period of the 16th and 17th centuries. This was particularly the case with respect to the doctrine of Scripture, for which he was a world-wide expert. In the 1999 Congress book I listed above, “The Theology and Life of Robert David Preus,” there was an essay by Michael Horton describing Robert’s involvement with American Evangelicals. There are also explanations about his work with organized conservative Evangelicals (e.g., the ICBI) in the same book, the essay titled “Robert Preus as an Organizer of Confessional Lutheranism.”

    It should also be said that Dr. Preus was well-known internationally among Lutherans, especially those of the conservative-confessional types. My sense is that he was the most well-known LCMS Lutheran in the 20th century, if you look at the international scene, after Walter A. Maier and Arthur C. Piepkorn.

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Regarding Dr. Bohlmann (e.g., #16): Dr. Bohlmann was a plaintiff in the church-court case against Dr. Preus. All the charges that he and his accomplices brought against Preus were dismissed. That is a historical fact and bears pondering.

    My view is, for whatever personal reasons Dr. Bohlmann may have brought charges, he could not have been able to persuade the other plaintiffs to join him, unless there was some wider animosity (i.e., by other people) against Dr. Preus. I think the “difference” factors I set out in my article explains those, as best as I can determine 25 years later.

    The “syncretism” factor pitted Robert Preus not only against the Tietjen-Seminex sympathizers, but also against all those folks who had some sympathy for the “Statement of the 44” (issued in 1945). The “Statement”‘s main political concern was to advocate for fellowship with the ALC. When Dr. Preus gave lectures against ALC fellowship, he was “butting heads” with all those who favored it–and really embarrassing them by showing thier quasi-Lutheran thinking.

    It needs to be said that the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau was a long-standing supporter of ALC fellowship, and was in fact the organization that published and distributed the “Statement of the 44.” So when Dr. Preus came out publicly against ALC fellowship, that made him “public enemy number one” for the ALPB folks in those days. I can’t say whether that animosity continues today among the ALPB.

    The “Affirm/Balance” factor was also significant. In either the 1983, 1986, or 1989 convention, Dr. Bohlmann had Dr. J.A.O. Preus come to the podium and roundly condemn Balance, Inc., and told it to disband. That was rather odd, since J.A.O. had been elected and re-elected primarily with Balance, Inc.’s support.

    In the 1992 convention, Dr. Bohlmann had governement statements (i.e., registry of incorporation which lists all officers and board of directors) published in the Workbook in order to discredit various members of Balance, Inc., especially those who had been involved in some way in the Preus case. Even though Dr. Preus had not been on the masthead of “Affirm” for quite some time, when Dr. Bohlmann and J.A.O. Preus had decided to “get rid of Balance,” Robert Preus was still considered part of that–whether or not he was didn’t matter.

    I hope this explains things a bit.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  17. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Just some references to add to my comment #19.

    The speech of J.A.O. Preus telling the Balance guys to go out of business can be found in: Convention Proceedings of the 57th Regular Convention of the LCMS, Wichita, KS, July 7-14, 1989, pp. 88-89.

    The government publication listing the Balance, Inc. members and officers in 1990 was an IRS Form 990, Part VI, and can be found in: Convention Workbook of the 58th Regular Convention of the LCMS, Pittsburgh, PA, July 10-17, 1992, p. 127. It was part of the “Supplemental Report” issued by the Fort Wayne Regents chairman (ibid., pp. 124-126). It was very odd that the FW Regents chairman said the Form 990 proved “conflict of interest” of Rev. Harlan Harnapp and Mr. Walter Dissen, even though Mr. Dissen’s name was not on that IRS Form 990. Stranger things have been published in LCMS official workbooks and proceedings, but not many. 🙂

    By the way, for those who don’t know your LCMS history, Rev. Harlan Harnapp was one of two pastors who brought the charges against John Tietjen that led to his suspension from office; and Mr. Dissen was one of the conservative laymen on the Saint Louis Seminary Board of Control at that time. So the “slam” against Harnapp and Dissen in 1992 proves that there was still high animosity against all conservatives from the Tietjen-Seminex sympathizers at the time that Robert Preus was terminated.

    These are certainly better days in 2014!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  18. If Ralph had remained one of the “Faithful Five” and not brought charges against Robert Preus, I seriously doubt that Preus would have been ousted as president of CTSFW. While there were those opposed to Preus, I do not believe they had enough support without Bohlman being their point man.

  19. @Martin R. Noland #20 These are certainly better days in 2014!” Perhaps. However, there are many concerns that need to be addressed. I believe it is timely that the ACELC film project was officially launched to coincide with your article.

  20. Thank-you, Pr. Noland,for your article as it is another clarification of what transpired in those years when I was a freshman at one of the Concordia Junior Colleges (’72-’74), then the Senior College as I was wholeheartedly behind the ‘moderates’. I graduated from Seminex. Returning to the LCMS, your article is another one which has helped explain the reason when I talk with pastors of my generation when those years are brought up bristle at the mention of that time. As you point out that a thousand congregations were deeply sympathetic to the ‘exile’: maybe more, considering how many are willingly throwing out Lutheran hymnody and liturgy which means finally confesssional theology. Let us also not forget there were a few LCMS congregations who were dually membered, in fact, my first congregation was such: I was an AELC pastor, the assistant pastor. This was deeply sympathetic without leaving! My first congregation liked their vicar at the time of the schism and wanted to stand behind him, so they decided to hold dual membership.

    I read your article after just finishing Robert Preus’ address, ” Confessional Subscription” (1970). I have read many articles from that time period and they are prophetic and their subtext could be: We told you so. At least that’s what the old Adam in me would say! I close with a great Robert Preus quote from “Confessional Subscription”:

    “The pastor who pooh-poohs purity of doctrine, who squirms when false doctrine and teachers are condemned, who cannot be certain of his own doctrinal position cannot subscribe the Lutheran confessions and forfeits all right to the name Lutheran.”

    Peace in His Name,

    Mark Schroeder

  21. Dear Pastor Schroeder,

    Thanks for your comment #23 (@Pr. Schroeder #23 ).

    You might notice that I did not say that all who came by colloquy back into the LCMS were Tietjen-Seminex sympathizers. I knew a number of those, and some of them “repented” for their decisions. Today they are as conservative as you can find, as you yourself are.

    It is interesting to read Carl Braaten’s memoirs. He has a lot of regrets too; one of those being the fact that the ALC and LCA decided to admit the Seminex faculty into LSTC and other former ALC/LCA faculties. He considers the radicals that left the LCMS worse than any of the liberals in the ALC and LCA, at least the ones he knew. I think there is some truth to that.

    So . . . to have a thousand LCMS pastors and a thousand LCMS congregations in the late 1970s and early 1980s still thinking that the Seminexers and the AELC were the “cat’s pajamas” shows how far the LCMS has come from near disaster. And it still has a ways to go in overcoming the errrors introduced in the period described, as the recent ACELC video “If Not Now, When?” might tell us . . .

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  22. It is interesting to read Carl Braaten’s memoirs. He has a lot of regrets too; one of those being the fact that the ALC and LCA decided to admit the Seminex faculty into LSTC and other former ALC/LCA faculties.

    Yet Braaten was “home grown”, wasn’t he? You’re writing about the Carl Braaten, who wrote elca’s “Dogmatics” with Robert Jenson, also “home grown”? I haven’t seen a reason for them to blame Seminex faculty for their education! They brought their unbelief back with them from Germany, where they studied, post-seminary.

    ). Along with Robert Jenson, he has been an influential figure in developing and restoring the catholic roots of Lutheranism at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
    Braaten was born on January 3, 1929. His parents were Norwegian-American pietists, …

    wikipedia’s description of the destruction of Lutheran doctrine by those two as “restoring the catholic roots…” is fanciful to say the least!

    In recent years I’ve read some breast beating by Braaten.
    If Robert Jenson has done any, it hasn’t come to my attention. He was favored by Gerhard Belgum but came back from Germany to “bite the hand that fed (and favored) him” through his undergraduate years, and destroy the religion faculty at Luther College. Because Jenson was teaching evolution in the religion department (!), Sherman Hoslett, head of the biology department, resigned in protest at the same time Belgum was driven out. [As is often the case, gold was exchanged for iron pyrites!]

    Oh, Jenson was a brilliant man!
    His wikipedia bios make a thing of Jenson being “an assistant to Herman Preus” while he studied under Preus at Luther Seminary.
    If true I wonder whether Preus wouldn’t disown what Jenson became, too.

  23. Couple of items:
    1. That Jack Preus speech at Wichita, 89, that was the “crazies on teh left, crazies on the right” speech, right?

    2. My dad’s theory was that Bohlmann had dreams of the LCMS (with him at the helm) being the catalyst for the formation (“finally!”) of “the OBLC” in the US (One Big Lutheran Church). This large body would unite all the “basically confessional/biclical” Lutherans of the ELCA predecessor bodies–particularly the ALC and large swaths of the LCA–who “still had fundamentally Lutheran ways of looking at things” with a “conservative” but “not rigid” LCMS. A “Big Tent” approach to Lutheranism.
    The thought was also expressed (I truly don’t remember by whom) that Bohlmann was pulling Kieschnick’s strings up through the 2004 convention.

    Out of mountains of papers and such that my dad kept on all kinds of things–from the “early” days of the ALC fellowship vote (I read letters of condescending nastiness from “brother” pastors responding to my dad’s own measured caution against ALC fellowship in 69, at which he was a delegate.) to the battles with Bohlmann over who had authority to dismiss the BPE/S Exec., to his work on the CTSFW BoR, only about 4 or 5 banker’s boxes survive. There was a basement flood in 2009 at my mom’s house, and then I had 6-8 boxes of stuff in my trunk 2 years ago when I got t-boned and a lot of it got scattered across the corn and bean fields of Newton Cty., IN. Pres. Rast asked about that stuff this summer and winced when I told him. I still need to go through whatever I have, and pass it along to him.

    Interesting side note: I was tickled to discover shortly after being called to this hinterland that the Preus family (Robert’s trust, specifically, if I remember correctly) owned a few pieces of farmland around here, which were cash-rented by local farmers. (Saw the name “Robert Preus” in the platt book–or whatever it’s called.)

  24. As a new Lutheran layman, I was disappointed to discover that the church I was attending in Southern California had pastors with a Seminex heritage. I didn’t even know anything about this sad history, if it wasn’t for my stumbling onto Steadfast Lutherans, and their link to Issues, etc. while surfing the internet. Talk about scales falling from one’s eyes! When querying the ministry, they were evasive, and admitted the differences were just “political.” Baloney! So I found a Confessional congregation down the street, went every other Sunday for a year, then transfered.
    Yes, it is all about realizing the need for a Savior, continual repentance and trusting that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross sufficiently justifies the penitent sinner, but, if you are going to call yourself Lutheran, then BE a Lutheran, not some syncretic less-than!

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