A lamentable lack of tribalism among the Lutherans

Hat tip to Patriactionary.  An observation on missionaries and the impulse to bash one’s own tradition

I couldn’t help but notice that his every reference to Lutheranism was derogatory or derisive. And yes, I mean that literally. He consistently treated our denomination, our traditions, and our theology as some kind of shackle from which we need to be released. There was definitely a strong note of that “Oh, if only we were more like Baptists, then an omnipotent and omniscient God could maybe finally find some way to use us to proclaim His Word” nonsense from the previous point.It’s not as though I think Lutherans or the Synod are beyond criticism—a quick review of this blog will tell you that. At the same time, our heritage of theology, hymnody, and history is a precious treasure won through hard-fought spiritual warfare against the Devil and this world. There are certainly things we need to change—mainly having to do with our embrace of modern worldliness and rejection of God’s word and our theological heritage—but one should not broadly treat precious things in such a manner, nor encourage others to do the same.

7 Responses

  1. And also among some Rеfоrmеd, as well, alas, as I have observed…

  2. Think he’s LCMS. They’re not particularly conservative – maybe the equivalent of a conservative Novus Ordo Catholic if one can make such comparisons.
    The Wisconsin synod (best equivalent FSSP??) is more conservative and the ELS even more so (best equivalent SSPX or SSPV). WELS and ELS still call the Pope the antichrist, etc.

  3. How about LCMS’s closest Catholic analogue is a EWTN Catholic.

  4. Yes, I’m LCMS. Obviously your mileage may vary, but I would contend that we are are particularly conservative (though, not so much as WELS.) There is a significant liberal faction in the denomination, though, the effects of which show up in quite a few congregations.

  5. I’m former LCMS, and whether or not the denomination is “conservative” depends on one’s definitions. The “conservatives” in the Synod generally follow a trajectory which interprets Luther and the Lutheran Confessions in light of Walther (one of the founders of the Synod), and both in light of 20th-century Lutheran theologians like Werner Elert, Hermann Sasse, and Gerhard Forde. All of these figures to one extent or another distrusted Lutheran theology after the second generation, from about the beginning of the 17th century until the supposed “restoration” of true Lutheranism in the 19th and 20th centuries. The periods after the Confessions but before this “restoration” are commonly neglected or derided as poisoned by, at various times, Scholasticism, Pietism, and Rationalism. Walther was influenced by Pietism before finally rejecting it, and this shows in all of his works. He is closer in some things to 19th-century Baptists than to the more Catholic Lutherans of the 17th century. Elert, Forde, and Sasse were neo-modernists, in the strict sense of that word. They believed that the expression of the faith through the ages needed to be updated, in order to better communicate core, unchangeable truths to new generations. Both drew rather arbitrary lines around which parts of tradition were to be maintained and which rejected. Both built idiosyncratic theologies by appealing *ad fontes*: Elert and Forde primarily to Luther, Sasse to the early Church Fathers interpreted through the lens of Luther and the Lutheran Confessions.

    This helps to account for a lot of things about the Missouri-Synod, including the similarity between its outlook and that of conservative Novus Ordo Catholics. Like NO Catholics, much of the Synod, liberal or conservative, is highly amenable to Evangelical culture and beliefs. Also like NO Catholics, there is a more “liturgical” or “confessionalist” camp that rejects this influence in favor of a more authentic Lutheranism. The problem is that that camp is still under the sway of Sasse and Forde, often times without even knowing it. Which is why they will staunchly defend Scripture and Lutheran tradition in some areas (the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, the divinity of Christ, the Sacraments, the *solas*, the all-male ministry), but not in others (a more Catholic liturgy, the nature and extent of sanctification, the morality of things like divorce and contraception, traditional gender roles, true mysticism, etc.); the latter being the “husk” which can be discarded in favor of the “kernel” of unchanging dogma.

  6. Thank you. This is informative.

  7. It’s easy to tell if a church is conservative. All the women wear dresses or skirts and cover their heads on Sunday.

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