Important Developments in the LCMS Lutheran Church
This last summer, I had the privilege of writing an article in the LCMS Lutheran Theology Journal. Chaos ensued, but not because of me this time. One of the other authors suggested that “day” could be interpreted as an age, and the crowds with pitchforks came.
A very interesting conversation has been playing out that is worth following. A couple of the key links I’m including here…
The Journal in question is here. I wrote the last article on a “Lutheran Voice in Science.” If there is interest, I’ll post that article here.
A follow editorial to address the controversy was written by a seminary professor, Chuck Arand, who you might get a chance to meet at ASA. Brilliant and thoughtful guy.
Unfortunately, the article on Day Age views of Genesis was retraced because the heat grew too much:
For better or worse, the President of the denomination weighed in with a fairly political statement. https://blogs.lcms.org/2018/64959 On a positive note, this article from a LCMS Lutheran is in the mix and entirely on point:
Perhaps the most subtle error of all, the film leaves the Christian with the wrong cornerstone of faith. Scripture is very clear. The foundation of our faith is Christ and His life and work, most especially His Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15). However, the film explicitly sets up a literal reading of Genesis as the foundation of our faith ignoring the primacy of the Resurrection, which is never mentioned in the film to my recollection.
Through this, however, Chuck has been putting together a multipart guide to origins debate. The first post si out, and it is really good.
He makes, what I think, is an important observation about the absence of a Lutheran Voice in the origins debate, a voice that I hope can be recovered.
The Missing Lutheran Voice
I feel four cautions are critical for us keep in mind.
FIRST, Lutherans have largely been silent in these debates, so only a minority of voices in any camp will be consistent with Lutheranism. We can and will find common ground with some of them, but we also do not want to lose our distinctive voice (See Josh Swamidass’ article in the Summer 2017 issue of the Concordia Journal).
SECOND, all these “camps” are more than mere positions, but complex groups of organizations and people. There is often significant diversity and disagreements within each camp. We usually will find a range of theological positions within each camp, which will not equally align with or oppose our own. Again, our distinctive theological voice was not considered as these camps formed, so we may come to very different assessments of individual positions within an individual camp.
THIRD, the seeds that grew into fruition in these various camps germinated in non-Lutheran theological soil. They grew in soil that we may say is (broadly speaking) Evangelical soil. This in turn shaped the specific Reformed/Calvinistic or Fundamentalist forms that they took in response to the intellectual winds of Western culture. This means that these schools of thought bring with them a certain relationship between faith and reason that we may not hold (and this is an old debate going back to the Reformation).
FOURTH, these camps were defined in the crucible of the culture wars that themselves grew out of a particularly premillennial-dispensationalist vision of a “Christian nation” in which America is the heir of Israel. Consequently, they are often caught up in the American “culture wars” in a way that is alien to Lutheranism, and may even explain why our voice has not been included.
I’m waiting for the Lutheran Option…
For these reasons, I caution against identifying too closely with any specific camp or approach to the science-faith issues they address. It would be better for us to define a distinctively Lutheran option that brings our theological values into dialogue with others, without losing our own voice.
In the post, some people (e.g. @Jon_Garvey) have questioned what I meant by the origns debate being too one sidedly influenced by Reformed thought. It may makes sense what I mean as this series develops. Right now, five follow ups are on the table:
- What is Old Earth Creationism?
- What is Young Earth Creationism?
- What is Evolutionary Creationism?
- An Exegetical Case for the Lutheran Option
- A Theological Case for the Lutheran Option
I’ve seen some early drafts of these posts. They are going to be uncommonly good. Its not typical to watch the inner workings of another denomination, but there is something really interesting happening here. It is worth seeing what we can learn. There is some real thoughtfulness going on here at Concordia. I predict these blog posts are going to rival most books in their insight on the origins debate.
Let’s see what the Lutheran option ends up looking like.