ELCA and LCMS Clergy May Teach Muslims and Christians Believe in Same God Christian News, January 14, 2013, Vol. 51, No. 02
Pastors and professors in The Lutheran Church in America and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are now permitted to maintain that Muslims and Christians believe in the same true God. Dr. David Benke, president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, insists that “The Muslim God is also the true God.” At an interfaith service held at Yankee Stadium on September 23, 2001 the LCMS official, with the approval of LCMS President Jerry Kieschnick, prayed with Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Liberal Protestants and Roman Catholics. LCMS Vice-President Wallace Schulz, who maintains that the Holy Trinity is the only true God and only God who actually exists, ruled that Benke had violated Holy Scripture and should be removed from the LCMS clergy roster if he does not repent.
Dr. Kurt Marquart defended Schulz’s decision, when the case was heard. However, Schulz was overruled and Benke now says he is reconciled with all members of the LCMS’s Council of Presidents, including the LCMS’s president and vice-presidents, without having retracted. He says that all members of the LCMS’s COP commune with him. Crisis in Christendom – Seminex Ablaze includes a statement by Schulz.
Schulz wrote: “This is why I state emphatically, and very, very sadly that all, and I repeat ALL of the divisiveness we have had in the LCMS as a result of Yankee Stadium can be traced to this (Kieschnick’s) ‘original’ sin.” (Page 111 Crisis in Christendom-Seminex Ablaze.) Benke is among those on the LCMS clergy roster who maintain that there should be room on the LCMS clergy roster for those who support evolution and women pastors.
LCMS officials have tried to curb publicity about a recent similar interfaith service in Newtown, Connecticut where President Obama participated with clergymen from various religions, including an LCMS pastor who is reported to have spoken at length with LCMS President Harrison and his district president prior to participating in the interfaith service. CN has asked both the LCMS president and Rev. Timothy Yeadon, the president of the LCMS’s New England District, if they urged the LCMS pastor in Newtown not to take part in the interfaith service which included leaders of non-Christian religions.
“American Muslims” in the January, 2013 Lutheran of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America again shows that ELCA pastors may teach that Muslims worship the same God Christians worship and that they may worship with Muslims. An Editor’s note at the beginning of “American Muslims” says: “This series is intended to be a public conversation among teaching theologians of the ELCA on various themes of our faith and the challenging issues of our day. It invites readers to engage in dialogue by posting comments online at the end of each article at www.lutheran.org. “The series is edited by Philip D.W. Krey, president of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, on behalf of the presidents of the eight ELCA seminaries. The two ELCA professors in the dialogue are Professor David Grafton and Professor Michael Shelley.
“Grafton is associate professor of Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations and director for graduate studies of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
Shelley is dean and vice-president for academic affairs; associate professor of Christian-Muslim studies; and director of A Center for Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice, all at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.”
Professor Shelley writes in The Lutheran: “However, from the beginning of his ministry, Muhammad, whose message was grounded in an uncompromising monotheism, proclaimed that only Allah should be recognized and worshiped. “Are Allah and the God of the Bible the same? Certainly the Quran contends they are. It says to Jews and Christians, ‘Our God and your God is one’ (Quran 29:46).
“Kenneth Cragg, a famous British Christian scholar of Islam, has suggested that it is helpful to think in terms of the subject/predicate relationship in sentence structure. The subject about which we are speaking is the same, but the predicates employed have significance both for where we agree and where we disagree. “We can agree, for instance, that God is the creator and that God is one. However, we may disagree on how the oneness of God is understood. Thus Christians would expand the predicate from ‘God is one’ to ‘God is three in one’ or ‘God is a tri-unity,’ language Muslims find unacceptable. “I agree with Cragg that we are likely to have more constructive conversations with our Muslim neighbors if we proceed on the assumption that we are talking about the same divine being.”