Good May Result from Promotion of Universalism in East
Christian News, January 21, 2013
Vol. 51, No. 03
When a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor participated in a unionistic and syncretistic worship service with Muslims, Bahai, Jewish, Roman Catholic, and liberal Protestant clergy, 12 year-old embers of smoldering embers of conflict in the LCMS were rekindled.
On September 23, 2001 Dr. David Benke, president of the LCMS’s Atlantic District, with the approval of LCMS President Jerry Kieschnick, prayed and worshipped with Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Roman Catholic, and liberal Protestant church leaders who all were supposed to be praying to the same god. Benke, in his defense, later wrote “The Muslim God is also the true God.” A survey showed that the majority of the members of the LCMS agree with him. They reject the notion that the Holy Trinity is the only true God and that a person is justified by faith alone in the merits of Jesus Christ. “Interfaith Service in Newtown Promoted Universalism” in the January 14, 2013 Christian News mentioned statistics from “‘Poll: Most Christians’ belief out of sync with Bible’ in the LCMS July 2001 Reporter and reprinted in the July 23, 2001 Christian News.”
The smoldering embers in the LCMS go back even further than what happened in New York’s Yankee Stadium on September 23, 2001. The embers from the formation of Seminex in 1974 during the LCMS’s great “Battle for the Bible” were never extinguished. Many who supported the theological position of the liberals, who formed Seminex, remained in the LCMS to agitate for women pastors, evolution and the critical views of the Bible condemned as false doctrine not to be tolerated in the LCMS in Resolution 3-09 of the LCMS’s 1973 convention. Dr. Kurt Marquart observed that the LCMS never followed through on 3-09. The LCMS’s 2010 convention again affirmed the 1973 convention resolution. However, no supporter of evolution, higher criticism of the Bible, women pastors, abortion, or homosexuality in the LCMS has ever been disciplined or banned from communion. The embers just keep smoldering in a church today which now has a “koinonia” policy which bans no liberal supporter of evolution, abortion, higher criticism of the Bible, or homosexuality from communion. Only someone who filed charges of false doctrine vs. an LCMS evolutionist or supporter of women pastors has been banned from communion in the LCMS. Some are hoping that good may result in the LCMS from the smoldering of the embers of conflict stirred up by the horrible massacre in Newtown.
“Good May Result From Yankee Stadium Controversy for LCMS In Rekindling 25-Yaer-Old Embers of Conflict” a story in the December 10, 2001 Christian News mentioned in the January 14, 2013 CN said:
“When two hijacked airplanes reduced New York’s World Trade Center to rubble September 11, they also rekindled 25-year-old embers of conflict in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod,” says the December 2, 2001, Omaha World Herald in a story titled “Lutheran President Criticized for Prayer.” It is reprinted in this issue (p. 6). In 1999 Seminex celebrated its 25th anniversary. Seminex was formed in 1974 when 45 out of 50 faculty and staff members of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, left this LCMS seminary and formed Seminex. They took about 450 students with them. Only five members of the faculty remained with some 80 students. It was one of the most significant events in the history of American denominationalism. The Bible doubters left and the Bible believers regained control of their seminary. In most U.S. denominations the liberals won their denomination's "Battle for the Bible." Both liberals and conservatives said the editor of Christian News and Concordia Seminary President John Tietjen, who become President of Seminex, were primarily responsible for the controversy.
Liberals and conservatives said that had it not been for Christian News, liberals would still control the seminary and most of the conservatives now at the seminary would never have been called to the seminary. The LCMS, they said, would by now most likely be in fellowship with churches which formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The liberals maintained that the LCMS should be broad enough for professors who denied the inerrancy of the Bible, rejected the immortality of the soul, the historicity of the Genesis account of creation and other sections of the Bible, the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the fact that the 8th Century B.C. prophet wrote all 66 chapters of Isaiah, the historicity of the story of Jonah, direct rectilinear Messianic' prophecy, etc. They wanted the LCMS to be broad enough for pastors who supported evolution, the ordination of women and homosexuals serving as pastors. The 1973 convention of the LCMS officially declared in resolution 3-09, reprinted again this year in Christian News, that the theological position of the liberal professors who formed Seminex was false doctrine which was not to be tolerated in the church of God.
The 1973 resolution was a major step in the right direction for the LCMS. However, LCMS President Jacob Preus and other leaders of the LCMS did not follow through. They permitted those who supported the theological position of Seminex to remain within the LCMS. The embers kept smoldering. CN showed these leaders that there still were many on the LCMS clergy roster who enthusiastically supported the position of the Seminex professors, the position which the 1973, convention said was not to be tolerated within the LCMS. The Preus, Bohlmann, and Barry administrations all permitted these Seminex supporting liberals, including such outspoken radicals as Paul Bretscher and Donald Prange, who deny the deity of Jesus Christ, to remain on the LCMS roster. The documentation CN supplied LCMS officials was ignored. The embers kept smoldering. Liberalism was not extinguished.
At the 25th anniversary of Seminex CN questioned some 350 graduates of Seminex, who were certified for ministry in the LCMS, and professors and clergymen who signed statements supporting the theology of Seminex. Hardly any of them said they now repudiated the theology of Seminex and affirmed the inerrancy of the Bible and opposed the ordination of women and evolution. CN gave the responses to LCMS officials. The Seminexers were permitted to remain on the LCMS clergy roster. Efforts at the 2001 convention of the LCMS by the editor’s congregation to have the convention take action against the Seminex liberals, including Prange and Bretscher, were sidetracked.
If the “embers of conflict” within the LCMS were stirred up by the fact that Atlantic District President David Benke, with the approval and encouragement of LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick, prayed with Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and other non-Christian at the prayer service held in Yankee Stadium, then the entire matter may end up for the good of the LCMS. Hundreds of thousands of members of the LCMS may finally wake up to the fact that there are many liberal clergymen within the LCMS who still support the anti-scriptural position of Seminex and who should be encouraged to join ECLA if they do not repudiate their liberal theology. The Yankee Stadium prayer services have led to more publicity for the LCMS in the nation’s press that any other event since the founding of Seminex. Perhaps there is still a chance of preventing the LCMS from becoming just one more of America’s “anything goes” churches. Once the true Lutheran in ELCA see that the LCMS does not keep on its roster professors and clergymen, who deny what the Scriptures teach, more of them will leave ELCA and join the LCMS. The Seminexers in the LCMS should join their liberal friends in ECLA and the loyal Lutherans in ELCA should join the LCMS, WELS, ELS or one of the smaller confessional Lutheran church bodies.
Ed. After CN filed charges of false doctrine vs. Donald Prange and Paul Bretscher, they left the LCMS.