Thursday, August 30, 2012

Christian News to Promote 21st Century Reformation and Formula of Concord

Pastor Otten Leaving Trinity, New Haven, Missouri After 55 Years

(500th Anniversary of Reformation, October 31, 2017)
This press release was sent to many publications, particularly Lutheran in July. CN has waited until now to publish it.

Pastor Herman Otten in a “Farewell Address” he presented to a voters meeting at Trinity Lutheran Church, New Haven, Missouri on July 15, 2012 announced that he would be leaving Trinity after 55 years as pastor on Easter 2013. He said he wants to give Trinity time to call a new pastor. Few congregations have kept their same pastor for so many years.

Otten, however, will not be retiring from the ministry. He will continue serving as editor of Christian News, now in its 50th year with issue No. 2,326, until a new editor takes over. Otten said once he no longer has weekly pastoral duties he plans to travel promoting the need for a realignment in Christendom and a 21st Century Reformation as the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation approaches on October 31, 2017. He has been working on a book tentatively titled “Why a Realignment and 21st Century Reformation Today?” He says this book will be somewhat like his popular Baal or God published in 1965. It was enthusiastically promoted by Bible believing Christians in many denominations in the U.S. and other nations.

Baal or God says in its introduction:
Baal or God shows there are basically two different religions within external Christendom. The difference between these two religions is the difference between God and Baal. Informed Christians ought to recognize that the real difference within external Christendom does not lie along traditional denominational lines within the major denominations. On the one hand there are those within these denominations who accept the fundamental truths of historic Christianity and on the other hand there are the modern liberals within these same denominations who reject historic Christianity. The situation in Christendom is like that in American politics. There are conservatives and liberals in each major political party. So there are believers in historic Christianity and modern liberals in the major denominations.”

When Lutheran News became Christian News in 1968 its masthead was written by Dr. Kurt Marquart, who long promoted a 20th Century Reformation and Formula of Concord. Marquart escaped from the Communists when they took over his native Estonia. Marquart and Otten were roommates at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Otten refers to Marquart as “The International Luther.” After interviewing Marquart, Dean Clarence Marion, a member of the Notre Dame University School of Law ,commented on December 3, 1967: “My friends, in my 13 years at this microphone, I have never heard a more precise and learned analysis of the conflict now raging between communism and organized religion, namely the churches of denominations.”

When Christian News began with a new masthead written by Marquart, Rev. Wayne Saffen of the University of Chicago, a liberal theologian, wrote in The Lutheran Campus Pastor that “Christian News has widened its strategy from dividing or conquering the Missouri Synod and the Lutherans to dividing or conquering the visible churches of Christ on earth. Its own realignment of Christendom calls for division between ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives.’”

The cover of Otten’s “Farewell Address” has a photo of the 40 ft. 21st Century Reformation Cross at Camp Trinity dedicated to the memory of Kurt Marquart “The International Luther”. It will be seen by thousands of youth and adults who regularly come to the camp which Otten and his wife began 40 years ago. Otten says that the book will show that theological liberalism, universalism, evolution and higher criticism of the Bible has taken over all the major protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

The pastor/editor says that sex offenders and homosexuals are often not removed from the pastoral ministry. His new book will quote from “The Rite of Sodomy – Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church” by Roman Catholic scholar Randy Engel and from “The Truth About What Really Happened to the Catholic Church after Vatican II” by Roman Catholics, Brother Michael and Brother Peter Dimond. Otten says that even in such formerly conservative denominations as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), evolutionists and liberal higher critics of the Bible are permitted to remain on the clergy roster. The New Haven pastor intends to show groups throughout the U.S. that William Beck’s An American Translation of the Bible is the most accurate Bible translation in the language of today. Trinity, New Haven has petitioned the LCMS to publish a translation of the Bible by confessional Bible believing scholars who use Beck’s AAT as a basis. The LCMS’s Concordia Publishing House first published the AAT New Testament in 1963. Christian News published the entire AAT in 1975. Since then Otten has had Bible believing scholars meeting at Camp Trinity to make improvements. Children and Family As the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation approaches, Otten also intends to show why a return is needed today to Luther’s view of the family and children. His recently published “A Handbook of Christian Matrimony” is subtitled: “The Blight of Birth Control and a Fifty Year Battle for Church Growth – Back to Luther no the Family and Birth Control on the 500 Anniversary of the Reformation.” The title page quotes “Unfaithfully Yours,” the cover story of the July 13, 2012 TIME which said: “No other single force is causing as much measurable hardship in this country as the collapse of marriage.”

The lead story of the July 23 Christian News says the religious leaders, including LCMS President Matthew Harrison, are dead wrong when they claim that the Bible is silent about contraception. Christian News photographed a page from Martin Luther’s Commentary on Genesis where Luther condemns contraception. The new book by the father of seven says that in 1890 the average LCMS pastor had 6.5 children. Today it’s around the national average of 2. When Otten began serving as a pastor of Trinity, the LCMS was baptizing about 83,000 children a year. Today the number has dropped below 23,000 per year. 21st Century Formula of Concord Several times Trinity, New Haven has petitioned conventions of the LCMS to call for a 21st Century Formula of Concord which reaffirms the Formula of Concord of 1580 but also speaks to the issues of our day, evolution, abortion, homosexuality, “gay marriage,” higher criticism of the Bible, the historicity of the Genesis creation account, the findings of archaeology, Bible texts, etc.

In 1990 Otten presented a tentative Formula of Concord to a congress of the International Council of Christian Churches when it met at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada. After Otten presented this “Formula of Concord” he was greeted with a rising ovation from delegates from many nations. Caucasians were in the minority. Unlike some conservatives, Otten has opposed racism ever since his student days. A bi-racial daughter-in-law recently gave birth to his 18th and 19th grandchildren. The multiracial ICCC delegates unanimously voted to send the 20th Century Formula of Concord to all their denominations in many countries. Most of the church bodies in the ICCC were small denominations.

The 20th Century Formula of Concord is in Otten’s “Walter A. Maier Still Speaks – Missouri and the World Should Listen.”

In this book, Otten noted that Lutheran Hour speaker Walter A. Maier, the most widely known Lutheran of his day, wrote in an editorial titled “Back to Luther” in the November 1933 Walther League Messenger on the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s birth, that almost every major denomination was “honeycombed by traitorous disloyalty” to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Maier wrote: “We repeat, the appeal to American Protestantism is: ‘BACK TO LUTHER!’ and if this be a battle cry to summon the latent forces of complacent laity to action; if it be a rallying summon for a spiritual crusade for Christ; if it means the splitting of the church into two groups, one liberal and unbelieving, and the other conservative and faithful unto death; if it require the breaking of conventional ties, the banishment of pulpit Judases, then we still repeat the cry: ‘BACK TO LUTHER!’”

The Missouri pastor says that his “Why A 21st Century Realignment and Reformation” will have more material on the Roman Catholic Church than his 1965 Baal or God. He claims that since Vatican II the Roman Catholic Church has “caught up” with liberal Protestantism.

Through the years some conservative Roman Catholic theologians have supported Christian News. Father Val. J. Peter, JDC, STD Director of The Catholic Center, Dowd Chapel, Boystown, Nebraska wrote on July 9, 2012: “I have been a great admirer of Christian News for years and years. Always enjoy reading it.” Father Peter sent Christian News the correspondence he has had with the “Great Courses.” The Great Courses advertised in many publications has been promoting the writings of Bart Ehrman, an agnostic, as their authority on Christianity. Few publications have been critical of the Great Courses for promoting the views of Bart Ehrman.

Msgr. John E. Steinmueller, S.T.D. S.S.L. was another Roman Catholic scholar who expressed appreciation for Christian News and promoted it. Dr. Steinmueller’s 3 Vol, “The Companion to Scripture Studies” was formerly used in many Roman Catholic seminaries. He wrote to Pastor Otten in 1974: “I diligently read Christian News every week. Sad to say your Missouri Synod and our own church are suffering from the same malaise. May the good Lord continue to bless your work in defense of the Scriptures and their inerrancy.”

Otten says that some conservative Roman Catholic theologians are more perceptive than some conservative Lutherans who claim that Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the current hero of much of Protestantism and Luther-anism. Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, has said that Bonhoeffer is the greatest Lutheran since Martin Luther. The Harrison administration of the LCMS regularly holds up Bonhoeffer as a great and faithful Lutheran. Otten, in his 2011 book Bonhoeffer and King, documents the fact that Bonhoeffer “demythologized” the Bible and considered such historic facts as the resurrection of Christ a myth. Among the theologians Otten mentions as claiming that Bonhoeffer denied such doctrines as the deity and resurrection of Jesus Christ is Cardinal John Joseph Carberry, former Archbishop of St. Louis. (St. Louis Review, November 1969).

The National Catholic Register Commented:
Christian News is a religious weekly unlike any other in the world. Crammed with news articles, columns of comment, and book reviews photo-reproduced, as well as much original material, this Lutheran paper has the polemical fervor of a lost age of religious controversy.” “Otten is largely ecumenical by adhering to an ecumenical thing” (National Catholic Register).

Trinity’s Convention Overtures
During the last 50 years convention workbooks of the LCMS have more overtures from Trinity, New Haven than any other congregation. Trinity petitioned the LCMS to take a stand vs. abortion, higher criticism of the Bible, homosexuality, euthanasia, theological liberalism, racism of the left and right, and for such doctrines as the inerrancy of the Bible, the historicity of the Genesis account of creation the virgin birth of Christ, the immortality of the soul, the physical resurrection of Christ, the Mosaic authorship of the first five books of the Bible, a 600 B.C. dating of Daniel, the unity of Isaiah, the historicity of Johan, etc. Some overtures Otten drafted were signed by more than 300 pastors and laymen in over 20 states.

The Lutheran Campus Pastor, a liberal publication, commented: “For the Christian News is now without doubt the most influential publication in the (Lutheran Church) Missouri Synod.” “It is an impressive record. Concerns which had been generated when the editor was still a student have almost all been validated by convention resolution: affirming a six day creation ,a historical Jonah, an inerrant Scripture, Adam and Eve are real historic persons, etc.”

The LCMS, Trinity, and Otten
While conservatives in many church bodies commended Christian News and Trinity, the LCMS never certified him for the ministry. Otten graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in 1957 with an M.Div. and a few days later from Washington University with an M.A. in history. A year later he earned an S.T.M. from Concordia Seminary and was on course to earn his doctorate at age 26 when his long battle with the LCMS hierarchy began. He never had time again to return to the classroom.

He informed leaders of the LCMS during the 1950s, at their request, about what was going on theologically at Concordia Seminary and elsewhere in the LCMS. When Trinity, New Haven, which he had been serving as a student while doing his graduate work, would not remove him as pastor when ordered by LCMS officials, Trinity was suspended several times and then expelled from the LCMS. Each time the suspensions and expulsion were declared invalid by the LCMS Board of Appeals, which consisted of 5 attorneys and 6 pastor/theologians elected at LCMS conventions. This same Board of Appeals ruled after interviewing professors under oath that the seminary had not shown just cause for not certifying Otten for the ministry. The board found Otten had told the truth about the liberal professors. The vote in 1984 was unanimous for Otten. However, even though the LCMS Handbook required the LCMS and Concordia Seminary to accept the ruling, they refused to certify the pastor of Trinity.

The rulings in favor of Otten and Trinity were a major reason who LCMS officials worked to get the LCMS to change its entire judicial system where evidence was carefully evaluated, a transcript made, witnesses sworn in, examined, and cross examined. Now the LCMS’s Council of Presidents is the final authority and the Board of Appeals is gone.

Officials of the LCMS say Trinity is currently under the threat of expulsion from the LCMS and Pastor Otten “is an impenitent sinner on the road to Hell.” When Matthew Harrison was installed as president of the LCMS, Pastor Otten was banned from communing and participating at the installation. Some 200 pastors participated in the installation/communion service. No liberal promoting evolution was banned. Harrison came for more than six hours to New Haven to urge Christian News to support him for president. He gave Otten many of his books and writings, which were then reviewed in Christian News. For more than a year Christian News regularly promoted Harrison for president. Other LCMS presidents have also requested the support of Christian News since this publication was the only newspaper reaching all LCMS congregations and later convention delegates each week. Once elected, these presidents kept their distance from Christian News and wanted Trinity to remove him as pastor.

Seminex Shows Otten Told the Truth
One of the most significant events in the history of 20th Century American denominationalism occurred in 1974 when 45 out of 50 liberal faculty and staff members at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis walked off the campus of the seminary and began “Seminex” at the Roman Catholic St. Louis University Divinity School and the United Church of Christ’s, Eden Seminary. Liberal and conservatives have said that it was two “stubborn” New Yorkers from Concordia, Bronxville, NY who were primarily responsible, Dr. John Tietjen, President of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and then Seminex and Herman Otten, pastor of Trinity and editor of Christian News. Today the official line from the LCMS is that Trinity, New Haven, Otten and Christian News had little to do with any of the conservative positions taken by the LCMS since Trinity began submitting overtures and Christian News began. A Seminary in Crisis, published by the LCMS’s Concordia Publishing House in 2007, hardly mentions Trinity, Christian News or any of its publications sent to all LCMS congregations and convention delegates.

Others have not been as critical of Otten and Trinity or minimized the influence of Christian News as have LCMS officials and their publications. James Burkee, chairman of the faculty at Concordia University, Wisconsin, the largest Lutheran University, writes in his Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod – A Conflict that Changed American Christianity, in a caption of a photo showing Otten with a group of students at a college where Otten was invited to speak:

“Herman Otten Jr. founded conservative tabloid Christian News following his rejection by Concordia Seminary. He shaped Missouri conservatism with an impact magnified by his freedom from church oversight. Otten was the most significant figure in modern LCMS history.”

Burkee’s book was published in 2011 by Fortress Press of The Evangelical Church in America. The Foreword is by Martin E. Marty, referred to by some as America’s leading church historian. James Adams, religion editor of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, in his Preus of Missouri and The Great Lutheran Civil War, published by Harpers in 1977, wrote:

“But when historians assess power and influence in Missouri (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) in the 60s, no man right or left will be more important than journalist Herman Otten. Before the ink was dry on his final exams at Concordia, St. Louis in the late ‘50s, Otten was accusing his professors of heresies. . . Although he was to influence the mighty Missouri Synod as much as any individual, he never became a certified minister. He liked his independence. . .”

The editor of Guidelines For Today, a Mennonite publication, wrote:
“Of all the religious papers and publications I receive, I rank Christian News among the finest. Herman Otten is an apologist of our time the like of which is difficult to find.”

Commenting on Otten’s Baal or God, the Baptist Challenge said: “A book you should have.” The Christian Challenge, an Episcopalian magazine, said: “. . . must reading for all informed Christians everywhere.” Herman Sasse, one of the leading Lutheran theologians the 20th Century wrote; “Somebody should rise and publicly thank Herman Otten for his brave fight . . . why was it left to a young pastor to speak when others should have spoken?”

The congregations and pastors of the Washington Circuit of the LCMS’s Missouri District know Otten better than seminary professors and LCMS officials. Trinity, New Haven is a member of the Washington Circuit. This circuit petitioned the LCMS to have Concordia Seminary certify Otten for the pastoral ministry. LCMS officials ignored the petition. During Otten’s years at Trinity at least six of the circuit counselors asked for Otten’s certification. Top LCMS officials disagreed with all six.

Bill Miller the editor of the Washington Missourian, who has served as president of the Missouri Press Association and traveled in many countries, said in his “Editor’s Notebook” in an item titled “A Man of Courage, Discipline” in the February 12, 2003, Washington Missourian:

“Pastor Otten battled the odds and scored many victories. However, he still is considered a radical, disturber and misdirected crusader by the liberals. He is feared by that element because of his comprehensive research and investigative reporting. He is a fierce debater. His newspaper interests range beyond religion, although there usually is a moral connection. He investigates and comments on most major issues facing the world today. He never backs away from his fundamental beliefs. Yes, he is controversial! There are people who will disagree with this column.

“He is the most disciplined person this writer has ever met. His day is organized by the hour and he is a shining example of one who does not waste time. Although in his late 60s he retains his zeal for physical conditioning and even has competed in ‘iron man’ competitions in various parts of the country. For years he jogged the 17 miles to The Missourian office early every Thursday morning to proofread and layout his newspaper.

“Pastor Otten has never neglected his congregation. Those duties come first. He visits the sick in hospitals and the aged in nursing homes, regardless of their faiths.”

“He also has not neglected his family but he has had to depend on his devoted wife Grace, a deaconess, for her dedication in the family’s many activities.”

“Also assisting him have been all of his seven children, at one time or other, who share many of the same disciplines of their father. Several have their own careers but they come home to help with the camp when needed. They inherited his work ethic.”

While the LCMS’s Lutheran Witness has a policy of refusing to publish any letter from Otten or mention Christian News or Camp Trinity, both the New Haven Leader and the Washington Missourian have published favorable reports about both.

“Forty years of Christian News,” a feature article in the January 22, 2003 New Haven Leader had this subtitle: “The newspaper that started in the basement on Maupin Street now has readers around the world.”

The New Haven Leader said:
“Despite the literal millions of words he’s published, friends and congregation members say he’s always put his family and his congregation first.” “And the congregation also stood solidly behind its pastor despite the pressure from the LCMS to get rid of him.” When Otten married Deaconess Grace Anderson in 1962, they went on a 5,000 mile wedding trip where Otten spoke to groups along the way on the “Crisis in Christendom”. At the time he may have been the only pastor who publicly took issue with liberal professors at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and elsewhere. When a leading Lutheran theologian, who denied the inerrancy of the Bible and promoted liberal higher criticism of the Bible, challenged conservatives to debate him, a group of California laymen sponsored a debate between a liberal and Otten. Almost all of the 600 at the debate remained for all six hours.

Appendix D of Otten’s “Farewell Address” is titled “The Future of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod – Won a Battle – But Losing a War.” The New Haven pastor concluded his farewell address: “Through the years Christian News has recommended that America follow the advice George Washington gave in his farewell address. This is my farewell prayer: May God the Holy Spirit lead Trinity to call a pastor, who is first and foremost faithful to God’s Word and the scriptural position Trinity has supported ever since it began in 1923 by faithfully preaching Christ crucified. Such a pastor will help guide you, your children, and your grandchildren through this vale of tears to your eternal home in heaven long after I am gone.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Here is Lutheran Theology" - Grace Alone

“Here Is Lutheran Theology” – Grace Alone
Christian News, August 27, 2012

Comments prepared by the editor for the 50th wedding anniversary of Rev. Kenneth Fischer and his wife Sheila at the Old Hickory Golf Club, St. Peter, Missouri, August 26, 2012.

Grace and I were thrilled when we received your invitation. Both of us were among the few here this afternoon that were present when Sheila and Kenneth Fischer were married on August 4, 1962 at Zion Lutheran Church in St. Louis.

We were preparing to attend the wedding of my sister Marie the following week in New York just before our wedding in Iowa, where Grace was a deaconess. Berthold von Schenk and the Catskills Lisa, Todd, James, all of you grandchildren and other relatives and friends: Ken Fischer and I grew up together. When as a teenager he was keeping a bar and hotel afloat in Saybrook, New York in the Catskills after the early death of his parents, I was across the Hudson River working on a dairy farm during summers. I came from the Bronx close to the church of Dr. Berthold von Schenk. This well-known pastor and theologian claimed to be the father of the high church liturgical movement in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Dr. von Schenk began a church which started in Ken Fischer’s bar and hotel. The editors of Lively Stone – The Autobiography of Berthold von Schenk published by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau in 2006 write in their acknowledgements:

“To Pr. Kenneth Fischer of Ballwin, Missouri, we owe deep gratitude and appreciation. He shared so generously and sincerely many personal recollections of von Schenk as a pastor, father, and guide that informed his own rich years of ministry; his observations of von Schenk at work, whether haying on the farm or cultivating the life of the Church, have affirmed the narrative here set forth. We must also thank him for his gift of von Schenk’s long out-of-print The Presence, his suggestion to include the appendix, his provision of pictures, his assistance in connecting us to von Schenk’s granddaughter, and numerous helpful comments along the way” (8).

While I was mowing and raking hay with a team of horses on the east side of the Hudson River, I could see the Catskills on the west side of the Hudson. The mountains formed what we called Rip Van Winkle while sleeping. Kurt Marquart Later we became good friends at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He roomed with Kurt Marquart at Concordia College, Bronxville, also visiting the Marquart home. When I spoke last year at Concordia, Wisconsin, I told the students and faculty I would much prefer if Kurt Marquart, whom Concordia Wisconsin had honored with a doctorate, were speaking instead of me. The same is true this afternoon. Dr. Marquart, who is now in heaven, was the guest speaker at a retirement dinner for Kenneth Fischer. In my estimation and that of others, Dr. Marquart was one of the greatest Lutheran theologians of our time. C.F.W. Walther the first president of the LCMS, is frequently called “the American Luther.”

Marquart, who was fluent in several languages including Russian, traveled and lectured widely and has been referred to as “The Inter- national Luther.” Ken Fischer was present at Camp Trinity in New Haven, Missouri when a “40ft 21st Century Reformation Cross was dedicated to the memory of Kurt Marquart .it has a 6’x8’ steel Bible on the bottom with the words “It Is Finished” and “He Has Risen.”

Marquart’s Legacy, published a few weeks after “The International Luther” died has a photo of Kenneth Fischer, Kurt Marquart, and Herman Otten in the Fischer home just after a marvelous dinner prepared by Shiela Fischer. It was the last time the old friends were together.

The book has this statement by Kurt’s former roommate, Ken Fischer: “Sometimes on Friday nights at the St. Louis Seminary a number of us would hop in the car for a trip downtown to The Bavarian Inn on Gravois and Arsenal. Often as many as 15 or 20 of us would sing some old German songs while consuming a stein of bier and munching on gehoctes fleish, black bread and raw onions. We would often ask Kurt to accompany us but he would always decline. He had so much to read, discuss and think through. However, on one and only one occasion I prevailed and he did allow me to take him along to our ‘Little B!’ Of course, he wore his suit and collar. Halfway through the meal Heinz called me over to the side. Heinz played the accordion while his son played the drums.

Heinz was considerably older than we; he had served in Uncle Adolf’s army on the Eastern Front. ‘Who is that?’ he asked as he pointed to Kurt. ‘That’s my old roommate Kurt from New York, from Bronxville.’ ‘No,’ said Heinz. ‘Where was he born? Where did he come from originally?’ ‘Kurt is from Germany and his grandparents from Estonia. When the Russian armies were coming in for the last time and everyone realized the Germans were losing they burned their home on their estates travelled to the Baltic never to return.’ ‘Oh, mein Gott,’ Heinz said with tears in his eyes. He is a descendant from the old Teutonic Knights. I knew it by the way he carried himself. ‘Yes,’ I replied to Heinz, ‘We all think he is a special friend. He has a sterling character!’”

When Kurt died his old time friend, Kenneth Fischer, wrote in a statement appearing in The International Luther:

“A prince walked among us and we recognized him not. “We knew his gift in the language of apologetics; “His words strung together in hermeneutical expression touched our soul “We became quiet, all was still; in humility and gentleness he taught us. “He was our roommate; yet he stiffened upon hearing the unnerving fire-siren. “He would rise to his feet as if to look for a place to seek shelter. “We would put our pen down. We knew that the alerting wail was terrifying to him with the memory of making his way through war torn Europe as a ten year old boy.” Only One Master Pastor Fischer was not able to attend his own retirement dinner. He was taken to a hospital because of a heart problem. Marquart visited him there. I titled the report of the Kenneth Fischer retirement dinner: “Only One Master.” The report concluded:

“‘Otten’s Circuit Counselor Says He Should Be Certified Without Colloquy,’ reprinted in this issue from the July 24, 1995, CN shows that he has retained his independent and courageous spirit which bows to no man, including church bureaucrats and seminary professors. Pastor Kenneth Fischer has one Master and that is Jesus Christ. ‘One is your Master, even Christ,’ Matthew 23:8.”

It was Kenneth Fischer who encouraged Rev. Frank Zerbil, the vacancy pastor of Trinity Lutheran, New Haven, Missouri in 1957 to get his New York buddy Herman Otten to preach at Trinity, New Haven. The New Yorker has been there ever since. 1957 San Francisco Convention In 1959 Ken Fischer, David Scaer, Kurt Marquart, Walter and Herman Otten attended the San Francisco convention of the LCMS where they met Dr. Hermann Sasse and some other Lutheran leaders from Australia.
They later called Marquart and me to Australia. They may also have been interested in calling Fischer to Australia but he was more interested in seeing the San Francisco sights than spending time in theological discussions with the theologians from around the world who had gathered in San Francisco just before the convention.

Ken Fischer livened up the San Francisco trip. When we stopped to camp, rest, and clean up in a cold mountain stream, he would call to us from some hill he had climbed to get a better view. I took photos when we stopped at the Colorado River to clean up and where we swam in the river in our underpants. When Ken was told Dave Scaer was showing pictures of us in our underpants in Poconos, Pennsylvania, Ken wasn’t pleased. Years later he wrote to ask for the photo to show his children and grandchildren what a fine figure he had. Courageous Ken Fischer could care less what professors thought about being a close friend of Kurt Marquart and Herman Otten. When Marquart prepared “The Concordia Seminary vs. Otten Case” it was Ken who was working in the bookstore at Concordia Seminary at the time who used the seminary equipment to bind the book. Roman Catholic Psychologist Becomes a Lutheran Last week Kenneth Fischer told me that one of the most dramatic moments of his life in the ministry happened when he began in Deer Lodge, Montana, where he was asked to also serve as a prison chaplain. He became close friends with a Roman Catholic psychologist serving at a prison. He eventually joined the Lutheran church. And now the heartwarming letters and thanks Pastor Fischer has received from elderly shut-ins he has visited, during his retirement years, expressing appreciation for communing them have thrilled him. A recent thank you card he received last month said: “Dear Pastor Fischer, keeping you in my prayers and remembering your many visits to see my husband when he was so ill. We both appreciated your time and prayers and always looked forward to your words of encouragement from the Bible.” Sheila and the Home

Kenneth Fischer in his “How I Became A Pastor” refers to his “wonderful wife Sheila” he met on vicarage. Others will have to tell stories about Sheila as she was growing up. I did not know her before she married Ken. Now I can say this much. When Sheila and Ken visited our family in New Haven, Todd and James with their leder hosen (leather pants) looked like they had just come out of the Sound of Music and the Bavarian Alps. Their behavior showed us they had a good mother. When Grace and I went to Barnes Hospital when Ken was the first LCMS pastor to receive a new heart, through tears in my eyes, I saw a kind loving wife watching over him during his many days in in the hospital.

The hospital order was for only a five minute visit. Ken wanted us to stay longer. He said he had something important to tell me. The November 1, 2004 Christian News published a photo of Sheila kissing Ken. This caption quoted Pastor Fischer as telling me: “Here is Lutheran theology. I did nothing to deserve this new heart. It was totally a gift. God gives us a new heart and forgives our sins. We did nothing to deserve it. It is totally a gift.”

Sheila and not only Ken should be commended in an age when even the children of so many of our pastors have not remained faithful to our Lord Jesus and the Christian faith. All of their children regularly attend an LCMS church. They have sent their children to Lutheran schools.

May God grant that you children, grandchildren, other relatives and friends continue in the faith and because of your trust only in the merits of Jesus Christ as your savior from sin you all enjoy a heavenly reunion forever with your common Savior Jesus Christ.

Long after Kenneth Fischer, who now has Parkinson’s and Sheila are called to their eternal home, always remember what he said after receiving a new heart. “I did nothing to deserve this new heart. It was totally God’s gift. God gives us a new heart and forgives our sins. We did nothing to deserve it. It is totally a gift.”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cooking Up Life - Life on Mars?

Cooking Up Life - Life on Mars?
Christian News, August 20, 2012

“Live From Mars – A One-Ton Rover Can Teach Us A Lot About the Red Planet – And the Blue One Too” is the title of the cover story of the August 20 Time. The weekly magazine says that “Curiosity will begin the search for the chemical building blocks of life on Mars.”

TIME mentions “a world that a few billion years ago was warm and fairly sloshing with water.” TIME says: “Mars was wet for at most a billion of its 4.5 billion years, but on the early Earth proved, that could be enough time to cook up life.” According to TIME, Gale Crater “located in the Southern Mariton hemisphere, is thought to be up to 3.8 billion years old. . .”

Far more than a century some commentators have claimed direct evidence of life on Mars. However, direct evidence has never been found. God says in his Word: “The heavens are telling how wonderful God is and the sky announces what His hands have made.” (Psalm 19:1).

“Live From Mars – A On-Tone Rover Can Teach Us A Lot About the Red Planet – And the Blue One Too” is the title of the cover story of the August 20 Time. The weekly magazine says that “Curiosity will begin the search for the chemical building blocks of life on Mars.”

TIME mentions “a world that a few billion years ago was warm and fairly sloshing with water.” TIME says: “Mars was wet for at most a billion of its 4.5 billion years, but on the early Earth proved, that could be enough time to cook up life.” According to TIME, Gale Crater “located in the Southern Mariton hemisphere, is thought to be up to 3.8 billion years old. . .” Far more than a century ago some commentators have claimed direct evidence of life on Mars. However, direct evidence has never been found. God says in his Word: “The heavens are telling how wonderful God is and the sky announces what His hands have made.” (Psalm 19:1).

God’s plan of salvation focuses upon planet Earth. According to the Bible, human life never existed anywhere on earth for some 6,000 or so years. Genesis says Adam was the first man. “The first man is made of the soil of the ground; the Second Man is from heaven.” (I Corinthians 14:47). The Bible teaches there is an innumerable host of angels in the heavens.

Here is an article which appeared in Christian News after CN published an article titled “Life on Mars?” More on Mars By Stephen Wiggins Daphne Berend writes objecting strenuously to my recent article, "Life On Mars?," wherein I maintained that this so-called discovery flows out of an evolutionary context. She supposes I reject science because I warn Christian News readers that the alleged discovery of life on Mars is based on presuppositions derived from the theory of evolution. This is not true. I appreciate the grand discoveries that the scientific method contributes to our society just as much as any person. Further, to imply that I believe science is incompatible with biblical revelation is also a misrepresentation. The problem is that my critic confuses true science with the false philosophy of scientism.

We currently live in a day and time when people generally possess mighty little respect for God's word. Even many professed Christians possess a proclivity to compromise the creation accounts to fit the evolutionary time scale. The final result is that whenever evolutionary "science" and the Bible conflict it is always the Bible that must give way to the latest scientific discovery. We are never told that "science" should correct its answers in light of the inspired Scriptures. Those enamored with scientism always give it precedence over God's word. Biblical interpretation succumbs to the most recent scientific data.

Daphne even tells us, "If my idea of God won't accommodate scientific discovery, perhaps my idea of God is too small" See. Here is an example of one who assumes that one's view of God is ultimately determined by science, not the Bible. It is as if God is told to move over for science is coming through. This is the kind of thinking that lays the foundation for the false and compromising philosophy of "theistic evolution" which seeks to harmonize the creation accounts in Scripture with the pseudo-science claims of organic evolution. It is idolatrous obeisance to the god of science.

Daphne further states that she has "no reason to think that a being who could create our universe couldn't put life in other places," such as Mars. But this statement ignores the primary point in my former article. My point was not what God "could" or could not do. Rather, I emphasized that the whole underlying premise of the alleged discovery concerning life on Mars by NASA scientists is based on the General Theory of Evolution. That is, that life arose from non-life purely by naturalistic chance, without any Divine intervention whatsoever. It is all part and parcel of the ongoing agenda atheistic scientists promote in order to validate macro-evolution as a scientific fact. It is an outright rejection of God.

The public is asked by NASA scientists to believe that Mars came into existence 4.5 billion years ago. Approximately a billion years later a living single-cell somehow originated from inorganic matter such as dirt and water. Then some 16 million years ago a giant asteroid slammed into Mars jarring loose a potato-sized meteorite which drifted through space for millions of years eventually gravitating to earth some 13,000 years ago. This rock lay in Antarctica for thousands of years until found by American scientists in 1984. Allegedly, within the rock there is chemical and fossil remains of living microscopic bacteria that lived on Mars 3.6 billion years ago.

There is not a single person who is the least familiar with evolutionary claims that will deny that this entire scenario which NASA scientists are asking us to accept is based on the evolutionary timetable; a time frame for which the biblical record simply does not allow. Every statement they make from the age of Mars to their theory of life arising from non-life by purely naturalistic chance is categorically based on the presupposition that organic evolution is an established fact of science.

God is not in the picture, never has been, and never will be as far as they are concerned. The tragedy in all this is that the religious community has seemingly swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker. Herein lies the reason why many are scrambling around doing some last minute Bible study so as to mold their biblical interpretation on the origins of life to harmonize with the most recent press conference announcements made by NASA scientists.

What we are desperately in need of in today's society is fewer people who are intimidated by the false claims of evolutionary science. Far too many have come to believe that the biblical accounts of creation and modern science are somehow opposed to each other. This is not true. True science and true religion never conflict with one another. They are completely harmonious. Rather, it is the false theories of some scientists and the false ideas of some religionists that are in conflict.

Discrepancies between the two are always the result of misinterpretation and misrepresentation of one or the other or both. Organic evolution is not a fact of science. It never has been. It never will be. The very question of life's origins falls outside the limits of the Physical Sciences. May every Bible believer muster the courage to un-ashamedly defend the creation accounts of God's biblical revelation while relinquishing any dependence upon the pseudo- scientific claims of evolutionary theories. Faithfulness to our Maker demands we do so.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

From Kinder, Küche, und Kirche to Career Feminism

From Kinder, Küche, und Kirche to Career Feminism
(Children, Kitchen, and Church)
by Ethan Bolstad

This is a paper about change, change that has greatly transformed the common perception of what it means to be masculine and feminine. Many of those living through this change did not, nor could not, have imagined the degree to which these changes would impact not only society in general but also the church itself. Those living after the change would barely be aware that a change had ever taken place. Aside from historical references, this paper is not about the change which took place within the world, but only the changes which took place within the confessional Lutheran church bodies comprising the Synodical Conference. It is the intention of this paper to lead the reader through these changes by comparing the commentaries of Martin Luther and the earlier LC-MS (pre-1940’s) theologians, to the later (post WWII) teachings of the LC-MS, WELS, and ELS. Once the changes have been identified, the current church bodies will be in a position to reexamine the issues, and ask themselves whether or not these modifications were made because their Lutheran fathers were in error due to legalism, or if these changes were accepted due to the demands exerted by a reform movement called Feminism, which happened to be especially active during these changing years.

It is also important to keep in mind that these pre-1940’s theologians, whom I am about to quote, were very influential men within Confessional Lutheranism. They were leaders of their time. They each possessed a brilliant mind, were well versed in Scripture, and wrote great works. Their works are still some of the best within Christendom, and we continue to use them routinely, to this day, within our Lutheran seminaries. We can find their works on the shelves of our pastors’ offices, as well as on the shelves of or church libraries. These were by no means, obscure, little known men, who had a vendetta against women. They were simply presenting to their listeners what Scripture had to say concerning the role of men and women. The Early Missouri Synod, 1847-1940 The Missouri Synod was founded in 1847. This was during the time of such people as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Margaret Fuller. This was a time of change within the world. This was a time during the early stages of the Feminist Movement, whose effects would soon spread across society and into the Church. This was a trying time for the people of the world and especially for the Church as they tried to maintain their identity in an ever growing unchristian population.1 These cultural changes were enormous and would range anywhere from seating arrangements to clothing styles/ modesty, head coverings, woman’s suffrage, career women, daycare/nursing homes, delayed marriages for an education, contraception, and even the concept of authority. Let us take a look at some of these changes.

In the Missouri Synod throughout the nineteenth century, women and children were seated together on one side of the church, opposite the men. These women would wait in their pews in silence and receive communion only after their husbands had first received it.2 There is still evidence of this today, in many of their old church buildings, where little hat hooks can be seen on the back of the pews, but only on the pulpit side where the men would sit. The women’s side did not have these little hooks because they were expected to keep their heads covered in accordance with 1 Corinthians 11:6. The men would sit on the pulpit side of the church so that they would be better able to hear the pastor away from the noises of the children, but then were expected to go home and preach this message to their families. Obviously, the men and women of today’s Lutheran churches no longer follow these seating arrangements or the head covering mandate, but it has been forgotten, only to live on in silent memory within dusty old books.

The Missouri Synod used to teach that the woman’s sphere could be defined by the German expression “Kinder, Küche, und Kirche” which means “Children, Kitchen, and Church.” The synod believed strongly that a woman’s role was to give birth to children and raise them, to care for and help her husband by being a domestic, and by being a good church-going woman. This was her calling given to her by God. And with this responsibility, God also gave her natural abilities which would help her to care for her husband and educate her children. It was only natural, and a matter of time, before the idea of educating children would eventually extend to other children, not her own3.

For hundreds of years, and even in the days of Luther, there were women teachers, but the difference between our time and theirs is that women now commonly teach and have authority over men. The Missouri Synod understood that there were many capable women who had the ability to educate, but they also believed very strongly that this authority should only be over other women and young children, and even in these cases the number of women teachers should be kept to a minimum, for a woman’s true calling was to be a wife and mother. A Missouri Synod pastor, J.C.W. Lindemann, in 1872, was very concerned over the matter of women teaching young men, and concerned with the consequences for the boys under such feminine influence.4 A few years later, Professor George Stoeckhardt, in 1897, agreed with Lindemann and said that teaching should not be her life’s ambition, but that her aspirations ought to be reserved for marriage and the raising of a family.5 This became difficult to enforce as the years went by and women continued to seek higher education and teaching positions. It should also be noted that in America at this time, only 5% of the married women were out in the workforce earning an income.6 But this would not last for long.

During this time, the Feminist Movement was challenging the United States government by campaigning for a right to vote. But in 1887, LC-MS theologian Francis Pieper, upset with the United States Senate over the proposed suffrage amendment, called women’s suffrage “a proposal that stands all natural order on its head.”7 The synod at the time believed that women were not ever to exercise authority over men. In 1899, the faculty members of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, made the statement that “All women in general are subordinate to men.”8

In the world at this time and more specifically in the United States, the women and men of the Feminist Movement continued to march and sound their trumpet, calling for change and demanding that women be released from the prison of their homes. In 1914, the Great War broke out in Europe, and the American people grew a strong distaste for anything German, including the German people, and this included much of the German speaking Missouri Synod. This put considerable pressure on the Synod and forced them to fit in with the rest of America. They started to accept the English language into their churches, and reluctantly accepted two constitutional amendments: the prohibition of alcohol, and woman suffrage.9 With the Nineteenth Amendment (Suffrage) now ratified by the States, the Feminists had a voice within the government and would soon have a foothold over the churches of America. Before this time, it was widely understood that because a man was the head of the home, he would vote for his household, taking into consideration the needs and desires of his wife and children.

From 1917 until 1924, Concordia Publishing House published Christian Dogmatics by Francis Pieper. In this four volume set, Pieper discussed many topics, including creation, justification by faith, angels, and so much more. One of the many topics he discussed was women. Not surprisingly, Pieper put great stock into what Luther had to say and agreed with him on this issue; he even quoted him frequently. “Luther maintains consistently that God’s creation of man and woman with a different sex appoints and fits them for a separate sphere of activity.”10 Pieper taught that the woman’s “separate sphere” was being a domestic: working from within the home and caring for husband and children.11 Along with this, he taught that women in general were in subordination to men in general and that this goes back to the order of creation and therefore remains applicable for all times.12 He also wrote against the idea that the woman’s sphere was determined by culture; he wrote that it was a permanent order established by God.13 And in keeping in line with Proverbs 31:31, he made it a point to praise women for their duties.14 It can be seen that Pieper was a man of considerable intellect and also a man who cared for his church very much. He fought hard to repel what he perceived to be false teachings at the doors of his synod, until the Lord decided to give him rest in 1931.

In 1919, Louis J. Sieck, an LC-MS pastor and the future president of Concordia Seminary, admitted that he and his colleagues did not take women suffrage seriously, but thought that it would die off on its own. But when he finally heard the wind roaring behind the waves, he spoke and wrote against the idea and against the whole notion of the Feminist Movement. He said that this movement was “one of the most serious menaces to the home, Church, and State which the devil has put to work in our country.” He also said “whatever aims to take women out of her proper sphere and place her on the same level with a man is a blow at the home upon which the welfare of the Church and the State rests.” He made it clear that he believed that the woman’s place was within the home, but because he did not take it seriously and was not prepared for this issue, he based his argument on tradition instead of basing it on Scripture, which in the end, hurt his cause.15

In the 1920’s, the synod decided to place restrictions on the enrollment of women in higher education, by keeping their enrolment down to 20% of the total enrollment, as an attempt to slow the rise of women teachers. But this did little to keep out the wave of women. The synod saw this as a problem and continued to believe that a woman’s primary role was within the home but because they were unable to slow this trend, a new policy was started, one of looking the other way. Mary Todd, author of Authority Vested, makes this observation: “The numbers grew, but the Synod continued its pattern of supporting a principle while ignoring the practice.”16

In 1922, Concordia Publishing House published The Popular Commentary of the Bible by Paul E. Kretzmann. This was a man who, like Luther, sought to take the Bible at face value and did not want to add to or subtract from it. He taught that women in general were not to have authority over men in general, in any area of life, whether it was within the home, in the church, or in public. He also maintained that her sphere was concerning the care and love for husband, children, and home. He wrote much on this topic, especially when commenting on 1 Timothy 2:9-1517 and Titus 2:5.18 He made it clear that the command for a woman to be a domestic was not Paul’s command but rather it was God’s command, and he criticized the women of his day who were trying to confuse the issue and break out of their proper roles.

In 1925, a teacher named John Eiselmeier, became another voice who made his concerns known over the feminization of the educational system. He said that it is dangerous for a society to put its boys into “the hands of women” while they are at an age when they are developing into men, and he called for men to come back into the educational field.19

In both Europe and America at this time, there were many changes taking place, but some were reluctant to say too much, due to being scripturally unprepared to tackle such issues. In the late 1920’s and into the 30’s, Theodore Graebner, a Seminary professor and editor of the Lutheran Witness, was concerned over what he thought was a rise of legalism within the Synod. He warned not to “make more sins than there are.” He said this in reply to a letter from a young pastor on the matter of the Nineteenth Amendment, and stated that “The thing is done, women now have the right….Now let them Vote.”20 In 1926, the Church of Thuringia composed the first set of guidelines for a position of theologically trained women who would help their pastors. Soon after this, Hamburg passed a position similar to this within its own churches. In 1927, Prussia followed suite, as did a number of other churches in Germany, but even within these churches, these women were excluded from the pastoral office.21

Despite the changes which were taking place throughout the world, many within the LC-MS continued to hold to their old beliefs. In 1929, Concordia Publishing House published The Christian Home, by John H. C. Fritz. This little thirty-page booklet doesn’t look nearly as impressive as Luther’s Works, but the wisdom it contains speaks volumes. In it he states, that there is a direct relationship between the condition within the home and the condition within the world. The breakdown of the home leads to a breakdown of morality within the world. Within his lifetime he saw a rise in public sinning, and he blamed it on the deterioration of the home, and strongly urged people to go back to Scripture.22

He did not believe that physical abuse, much less emotional abuse, was a reason for a divorce. He would have disagreed with the pastors of a later generation who, at times, recommend divorce for reasons other than adultery, and he does not play with words to make physical desertion mean anything other than what it simply means.23 But he does say that if a woman’s life is endangered by her husband, she should instead, separate from him for a time and allow him to make amends. He further tells us that desertion is not a cause for a divorce but that it is divorce. A woman who has been deserted by her husband should consider him to be dead, seek a legal divorce, and get married again.24

Fritz, like the men before him, also taught that the male sex was to lead, provide, and protect, and he did not encourage women to step into this sphere but rather encouraged them to remain within their own sphere.25 He says very clearly that the wife’s role was to be within the home, caring for her husband and children.26 He then writes that the modern woman is “sinning against God, interfering with nature, and unsexing herself” due to the fact that she is trying to remove herself from the home and move into the man’s sphere.27

On the issue of children, he was just as consistent, and agreed with what had been taught by the earlier church fathers concerning birth control and the attempt to prevent oneself from having children. He taught that it was unnatural and sinful.28 He also taught that it was wrong for children to neglect their elderly parents and treat them as if they were pieces of furniture to be forgotten in the corner. He believed that they should be loved and cared for as one of the family.29

In 1932, Concordia Publishing House published Pastoral Theology: A Handbook of Scriptural Principles, also by John H. C. Fritz. This book was intended, and was used, for the teaching of young seminary students. This is what Fritz wanted these students to preach once they received their call. In accordance with his own book and with the Lutheran church fathers, he interpreted from Scripture that men were to lead, provide, and protect, and women were to care for husbands, children, and homes. Fritz taught that it was a perversion for men or women to try and move into one another’s sphere, and that it was the responsibility of the pastors to warn against such things.30

In 1934, Concordia Publishing House published Christian Dogmatics: A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology for Pastors, Teachers, and Laymen by John T. Mueller. This is what he had to say: “Both the man and the woman serve best in that relation or sphere in which God created each, Eph.5, 21-33; Titus 2, 3-5; 1 Cor.7,20, whereas the abrogation of the divine order will result in confusion and injury for human society, Prov. 1, 24-33.”31

In 1937, Lutheran Book Concern published Commentary on the New Testament by R.C.H. Lenski. In it, he stands in agreement with the conservative LC-MS theologians of his time by claiming that the roles between the sexes did not disappear with the completion of Christ’s work but rather were “sanctified by it.”32 But on the other hand, he did disagree with them on the matter of women teaching in public. He thought that the issue of women not teaching men, was only to be applied within the church, and not out in the public world. “A learned woman may discourse to a whole class of men.”33 But he then comes right back in line with the teachings of his day and claims that “All scripture condemns the refusal of married women to give birth to children.” And then he goes further by saying that the home is the place for wives and mothers, and they are to manage it and watch over it. He even claims that it is “Woman’s divinely intended sphere.”34 When commenting on Titus he again affirms what he said previously, and makes it clear that women are to be homemakers. He stresses the importance of church-going women and said that the world will judge a church by the conduct of its daughters.35 Luther’s Views As we have seen, these theologians of the early Missouri Synod were in almost complete agreement with one another on the issues of gender roles. Not surprisingly, they were in agreement with their Lutheran fathers, who in turn were in agreement with Luther. Throughout his life, Luther taught that men and women were not to move into one another’s sphere, but to remain as God created them, either masculine or feminine.36 He didn’t consider it to be within a person’s decision to change or alter the sphere in which he was placed. He made this clear and taught against the idea of women leading, providing, and protecting and against the idea of feminizing men into becoming homemakers. Each has to remain as God created them: either male or female.37

He also believed that once a couple was married, they should not prevent a blessing from God by cutting off their seed. But they should understand that God is the taker and giver of life. He considered the procreation of children as more than a blessing but as an actual Christian duty.38 Luther was very much against the idea of birth control and stood beside the Church Fathers in the condemnation of Onan spilling his semen upon the ground.39

He also believed that a woman’s very body was built for the care and instruction of the children, and that women should long to be mothers, for this was one of the reasons for which she was created.40 He considered their ability to give birth to be their highest calling.41 Throughout his life, Luther is heard expressing the views that bearing children, or the desire to bear them, should be at the heart of the Christian woman. He even appeals to the Natural Law of their anatomies, and points out the fact that their bodies are built for this.42 He also writes about the detriments of not accepting this God given responsibility.43 Luther taught, that in order for a woman “to manage the household and train children,” she would need to be in her home for much of the day.44 He spoke extensively on this topic throughout his life, and made a very big deal of Abraham’s brief reply to God concerning his wife’s whereabouts.45 It should also be noted, that Sarah had no children at this time, and yet Luther interpreted these verses to mean that she needed to be near her home. Luther understood that the woman’s calling did not begin or end with the raising of children, but that her duties also concerned the care for her husband and the home as well.

Throughout Luther’s ministry, he taught that men were to be leaders, providers, and protectors. He taught that the men were to be the ones taking the initiative and making the decisions, not only within the Church or the home, but also within society,46 obviously doing so with love and consideration for their wives and children.47 He taught that men were to be the ones nourishing (or providing) for their families,48 and that it was the men who were to be the ones protecting their families.49 He never changes his position on this; he consistently puts men and women into two separate categories or spheres.50 And at no point does he teach or even imply that the order of creation is limited to the home and church but makes it very clear that the order of creation was also to be applied to society. He even taught that the order of creation was to exist until the end of time.51

This is not to say that Luther thought less of the woman’s position; on the contrary he believed that she was her husband’s greatest blessing.52 He even quoted Scripture by calling her the “treasure of the house”, and made a marvelous statement that gets right down to the fact that women, who care for husbands, children, and homes, are a wonderful blessing here on earth to both the family and the Church, as well as society.53 And he didn’t believe that these teachings should be silenced by the Roman Church (which emphasized celibacy), but rather the church should be teaching these roles to its congregations, for the benefit of the Christian people.54

As is plainly seen, the LC-MS theologians of the pre-40’s were in near, if not total, agreement with Luther on the issues of gender roles. They believed, just as Luther did, that men and women were to live and operate in two separate spheres of influence, and that great harm would come to the family, church, and society if these spheres were to become confused, and exchanged between the sexes. But for all their strength, leadership, and devotion to the all powerful God of heaven, these men, living during such turbulent times, were not able to stand long against the forces which the world was dashing upon them. In 1938, the Parliament of Norway passed a law allowing women into all civil and ecclesiastical offices.55 Very soon the rest of the world would follow. (To Be Continued)
(Endnotes available upon request)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Are Many Americans Going Crazy?

Why Are Most Churchmen and Theologians Silent About This Disaster?
Christian News, August 6, 2012
Vol 50, No. 32

“!Crazy. Panic. Depression. Psychosis. How connection Addiction Is Rewiring Our Brains” is the title of the important cover story by Tony Dokoupil in the July 16, 2012 Newsweek. It should be quoted in every religious newspaper and theological journal in the nation. In this computer age, all pastors, regardless of denominations, should bring it to the attention of their congregations. Seminary professors should urge all of their students to read it. How many have?

“Don’t Waste Time,” was the title of a section of “Christian News Challenges the Concordia University Systems and All Christian Youth – Work for a 21st Century Reformation – FIGHT FOR THE FAITH.” This speech was presented on February 3, 2011 at Concordia University, Wisconsin. It is an appendix in Herman Otten’s, Bonhoeffer and King – A Fifty Year Battle vs. Intellectual Laziness.

The CN editor said: Do not waste your years here at Concordia. When I was attending the graduate school at Columbia University in New York I figured out that it was costing me about five dollars an hour to sit in class. Use your library, read at least some of the periodicals in the reading room. Computers are helpful, yet, often they take the place of reading books and good magazines and newspapers. At times some of these chat rooms on the computer remind me of the bull sessions we had at Concordia, Bronxville. They were fun, but the time came to get down to real learning by reading books. The November 15, 2010 Christian News quoted at some length from the recently released book by Nicholas Carr, What The Internet Is Doing to Our Brains: The Shallows. Carr writes:

‘The Net’s cacophony of stimuli short-circuits both conscious and unconscious thoughts, preventing our minds from either thinking deeply or creatively.’

“Warp Speed – Digital Gadgets are Changing Our Brains,” an editorial in Newsweek by Tina Brown – Editor in Chief, Newsweek, the Daily Beast,” says: “It’s like having an ever present, adulterous, inexhaustibly demanding affair, a secret counter existence that no matter how fast we run always outpaces reality.”

“In his international survey for Newsweek of a variety of academic research in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology, Dokoupil identifies disquieting global trends in mental health associated with Internet Penetration.”

Newsweek’s “CRAZY” article says: “When President Obama last ran for office, the iPhone had yet to be launched. Now smartphones outnumber the old models in America, and more than a third of users get online before getting out of bed.

“Meanwhile, texting has become like blinking: the average person, regardless of age, sends or receives about 400 texts a month, four times the 2007 number. The average teen processes an astounding 3,700 texts a month, double the 2007 figure. And more than two thirds of these normal, everyday cyborgs, myself included, report feeling their phone vibrate when in fact nothing is happening. Researchers call it ‘phantom-vibration syndrome.’

“Altogether the digital shifts of the last five years call to mind a horse that has sprinted out from underneath its rider, dragging the person who once held the reins. No one is arguing for some kind of Amish future. But the research is now making it clear that the Internet is not ‘just’ another delivery system. It is creating a whole new mental environment, a digital state of nature where the human mind becomes a spinning instrument panel, and few people will survive unscathed.

“ ‘This is an issue as important and unprecedented as climate change,’ says Susan Greenfield, a pharmacology professor at Oxford University who is working on a book about how digital culture is rewiring us—and not for the better. ‘We could create the most wonderful world for our kids but that’s not going to happen if we’re in denial and people sleepwalk into these technologies and end up glassy-eyed zombies.’

“Does the Internet make us crazy? Not the technology itself or the content, no. But a Newsweek review of findings from more than a dozen countries finds the answers pointing in a similar direction. Peter Whybrow, the director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, argues that ‘the computer is like electronic cocaine,’ fueling cycles of mania followed by depressive stretches. The Internet ‘leads to behavior that people are conscious is not in their best interest and does leave them anxious and does make them act compulsively,’ says Nicholas Carr, whose book The Shallows, about the Web’s effect on cognition, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. It ‘fosters our obsessions, dependence, and stress reactions,’ adds Larry Rosen, a California psychologist who has researched the Net’s effect for decades. It ‘encourages — and even promotes—insanity.’

“Fear that the Internet and mobile technology contributes to addiction—not to mention the often related ADHD and OCD disorders—has persisted for decades, but for most of that time the naysayers prevailed, often puckishly. ‘What’s next? Microwave abuse and Chapstick addiction?’ wrote a peer reviewer for one of the leading psychiatric journals, rejecting a national study of problematic Internet use in 2006. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has never included a category of machine-human interactions.

“But that view is suddenly on the outs. When the new DSM is released next year, Internet Addiction Disorder will be included for the first time, albeit in an appendix tagged for ‘further study.’ China, Taiwan, and Korea recently accepted the diagnosis, and began treating problematic Web use as a grave national health crisis. In those countries, where tens of millions of people (and as much as 30 percent of teens) are considered Internet-addicted, mostly to gaming, virtual reality, and social media, the story is sensational front-page news.”

“In April, doctors told The Times of India about an anecdotal uptick in ‘Facebook addiction.’ The latest details of America’s Web obsession are found in Larry Rosen’s new book, iDisorder, which, despite the hucksterish title, comes with the imprimatur of the world’s largest academic publisher. His team surveyed 750 people, a spread of teens and adults who represented the Southern California census, detailing their tech habits, their feelings about those habits, and their scores on a series of standard tests of psychiatric disorders. He found that most respondents, with the exception of those over the age of 50, check text messages, email or their social network ‘all the time’ or ‘every 15 minutes.’ More worryingly, he also found that those who spent more time online had more ‘compulsive personality traits.’”

“In 2008 Gary Small, the head of UCLA’s Memory and Aging Research Center, was the first to document changes in the brain as a result of even moderate Internet use. He rounded up 24 people, half of them experienced Web users, half of them newbies, and he passed them each through a brain scanner. The difference was striking, with the Web users displaying fundamentally altered prefrontal cortexes. But the real surprise was what happened next. The novices went away for a week, and were asked to spend a total of five hours online and then return for another scan. ‘The naive subjects had already rewired their brains,’ he later wrote, musing darkly about what might happen when we spend more time online. “The brains of Internet addicts, it turns out, look like the brains of drug and alcohol addicts. In a study published in January, Chinese researchers found ‘abnormal white matter’—essentially extra nerve cells built for speed—in the areas charged with attention, control, and executive function. A parallel study found similar changes in the brains of videogame addicts. And both studies come on the heels of other Chinese results that link Internet addiction to ‘structural abnormalities in gray matter,’ namely shrinkage of 10 to 20 percent in the area of the brain responsible for processing of speech, memory, motor control, emotion, sensory, and other information. And worse, the shrinkage never stopped: the more time online, the more the brain showed signs of ‘atrophy.’”

“A 1998 Carnegie Mellon study found that Web use over a two-year period was linked to blue moods, loneliness, and the loss of real-world friends.”

“Web use often displaces sleep, exercise, and face-to-face exchanges, all of which can upset even the chirpiest soul. But the digital impact may last not only for a day or a week, but for years down the line. A recent American study based on data from adolescent Web use in the 1990s found a connection between time online and mood disorders in young adulthood. Chinese researchers have similarly found ‘a direct effect’ between heavy Net use and the development of full-blown depression, while scholars at Case Western Reserve University correlated heavy texting and social-media use with stress, depression, and suicidal thinking.

“In response to this work, an article in the journal Pediatrics noted the rise of ‘a new phenomenon called “Facebook depression,”?’ and explained that ‘the intensity of the online world may trigger depression.’ Doctors, according to the report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, should work digital usage questions into every annual checkup.

“Rosen, the author of iDisorder, points to a preponderance of research showing ‘a link between Internet use, instant messaging, emailing, chatting, and depression among adolescents,’ as well as to the ‘strong relationships between video gaming and depression.’”

“For her book Alone Together, MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle interviewed more than 450 people, most of them in their teens and 20s, about their lives online. And while she’s the author of two prior tech-positive books, and once graced the cover of Wired magazine, she now reveals a sad, stressed-out world of people coated in Dorito dust and locked in a dystopian relationship with their machines.”

“The latest Net-and-depression study may be the saddest one of all. With consent of the subjects, Missouri State University tracked the real-time Web habits of 216 kids, 30 percent of whom showed signs of depression. The results, published last month, found that the depressed kids were the most intense Web users, chewing up more hours of email, chat, videogames, and file sharing. They also opened, closed, and switched browser windows more frequently, searching, one imagines, and not finding what they hoped to find.”

“Recently, scholars have begun to suggest that our digitized world may support even more extreme forms of mental illness. At Stanford, Dr. Aboujaoude is studying whether some digital selves should be counted as a legitimate, pathological ‘alter of sorts,’ like the alter egos documented in cases of multiple personality disorder (now called dissociative identity disorder in the DSM).”

“A team of researchers at Tel Aviv University is following a similar path. Late last year, they published what they believe are the first documented cases of ‘Internet-related psychosis.’ The qualities of online communication are capable of generating ‘true psychotic phenomena,’ the authors conclude, before putting the medical community on warning. ‘The spiraling use of the Internet and its potential involvement in psychopathology are new consequences of our times.’

“So what do we do about it? Some would say nothing, since even the best research is tangled in the timeless conundrum of what comes first. Does the medium break normal people with its unrelenting presence, endless distractions, and threat of public ridicule for missteps? Or does it attract broken souls?

“But in a way, it doesn’t matter whether our digital intensity is causing mental illness, or simply encouraging it along, as long as people are suffering. Overwhelmed by the velocity of their lives, we turn to prescription drugs, which helps explain why America runs on Xanax (and why rehab admissions for benzodiazepines, the ingredient in Xanax and other anti-anxiety drugs, have tripled since the late 1990s). We also spring for the false rescue of multitasking, which saps attention even when the computer is off. And all of us, since the relationship with the Internet began, have tended to accept it as is, without much conscious thought about how we want it to be or what we want to avoid. Those days of complacency should end. The Internet is still ours to shape. Our minds are in the balance.”

The 21st Century Reformation Cross dedicated to the memory of Dr. Kurt Marquart, “The International Luther” emphasizes the three solas of the Reformation, Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, and Sola Gratia (Scripture Alone, Faith Alone, Grace Alone).

Debunking the Sola Scriptura Myth, by Father Raymond de Souza, in the July 26, 2012 Wanderer (a Roman Catholic Publication), says: “Sola Scriptura is not Christianity: It is a recipe for a relativism!

“Luther himself admitted that his revolution has produced a doctrinal chaos, but he was much too proud to admit he had been wrong.”

“Sola Scriptura made Christianity become meaningless as an objective message. The sentence in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy will be done’ became ‘My will be done.’

“It is no longer Christianity; it is religious relativism. It is just biblical make-believe. “Next article: Sola Scriptura is unscriptural. + + + “(Raymond de Souza is director of the Evangelization and Apologetics Office of the Winona Diocese, Minn.; EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International [HLI], president of the Sacred Heart Institute and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His web site is:”