The bandwagon comes from American political campaigns, where people showed their support of a candidate by climbing aboard an elaborately decorated wagon carrying a costumed band. P. T. Barnum invented the bandwagon and politicians imitated it to attract attention to themselves. Lutheran pastors are either joining the Church of Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy, both options unthinkable a few decades ago. Here are some names. Joining Rome is called poping, so joining Eastern Orthodoxy would be semi-poping, all the benefits without the baggage, they probably argue.
Richard John Neuhaus
I heard his father preach an Easter sermon in Simcoe, Ontario. Neuhaus' father was a conservative LCMS pastor. Richard went to Concordia, St. Louis. Together with Robert Wilken (below), he pushed Herman Otten and Kurt Marquart out of editing the student paper. Neuhaus was a liberal leader of the Seminex movement. He was a parish pastor when his congregation in New York joined the AELC, the group leaving Missouri. Neuhaus wrote the Lutheran Forum Newsletter (see editor Klein below), which was widely read on the liberal side of Lutheranism (ALC, LCA, liberal Missouri). Neuhaus began to sound conservative and I started to write to him. He often quoted me in his newsletter, so often that I asked for my name to be omitted. I was already in the Wisconsin Synod when I met him personally at the Ad Fontes conference in Pennsylvania. He joked about whether I would take communion with the ELCA pastors. I said, "No. You are Ad Fontes. We are Fontes." (You are going to the sources. We are the sources. Ad Fontes was a Reformation slogan.) Neuhaus had an earnest conversation with the LCA Bishop, James Crumley. Not long afterwards, Neuhaus joined the Church of Rome and became a priest. He is occasionally seen on TV as a priest. Neuhaus bragged about having lunch with Pope John Paul II and expressed astonishment that I wrote about the pope as the Antichrist. He was similarly enchanted that the Archbishop of New York visited him in the hospital when he was deathly ill.
I got to know Robert Wilken at Notre Dame, where he was head of the graduate program in theology. I did not have him as a professor. As I wrote above, he was friends with Neuhaus in seminary. Wilken left Notre Dame when the department began getting rid of non-Catholics. Nevertheless, Wilken became a Catholic later. Another person I knew at Notre Dame was the grandson of LCMS President Pfotenhauer. Fritz Pfotenhauer was a liberal who took his congregation out of the LCMS and joined the LCA. He had Wilken serve as an assistant pastor.
I met Klein and his intellectual wife at the Ad Fontes conference. I was fairly active in publishing when I left the LCA, so we had something to talk about. The Ad Fontes conference was interesting for being a conservative response to the trends in the LCA. However, many of the couples were both pastors, husband and wife. One pastor got up to defend the Church Growth Movement when Neuhaus gave a paper against the cancer. The group was mostly high church, I imagine. Bishop Crumley celebrated communion, puzzled and alarmed that a woman pastor took on this weird pose of adoration of the elements. She froze in a half-bow with her hands folded, never moving. Crumley looked at her a dozen times, probably wondering about her sanity. All the LCA communion services were high church, so he was not a rube from the back woods. Klein was interesting for several reasons. He became an editor of the Lutheran Forum Letter, and like Neuhaus, became a Roman Catholic priest. He was pastor of one of the famous, huge LCA congregations, where Franklin D. Fry was a pastor (F. D. was son of Franklin Clark Fry, the ULCA, LCA president, Mr. Protestant). Yes, married men can become priests. If their wives precede them in death, they cannot get married again.
I met his father (dying of cancer) and his brother in Cleveland, when I was serving my first parish. Later, at Yale, Pelikan was at Bethesda Lutheran Church (LCA) every Sunday, with his family. Pelikan was still officially LCMS, but he attended Bethesda anyway. He was famous from the beginning of his academic career in the LCMS, earning a Ph.D. and an M.Div. at the same time, commuting between St. Louis and Chicago, a feat I cannot imagine. He was held in high esteem at Yale. I imagined him having a shot at being Yale president. Pelikan joined the Orthodox Church in America before he died. He gave his $500,000 theology prize to an orthodox seminary.
I did not know him, but Carl Braaten listed him in his letter to ELCA Bishop Mark Hanson. Rochelle had been LCMS, lost his faith, then became ELCA. I included him because he was so well known as a proud apostate, rejecting all the articles of faith.
Others Who Have Poped
Braaten listed Bruce Marshall (St. Olaf), David Fagerberg (Concordia College, now at Notre Dame), Reinhard Huetter (LSTC), and Mickey Mattox.
Braaten wrote to Bishop Hanson:
What is happening is nothing less than a tragedy. The ELCA is driving out the best and the brightest theologians of our day, not because it is too Lutheran, but because it has become putatively just another liberal protestant denomination. I would think that this is a situation that ought to concern you immensely as well as all the leadership cadres of the ELCA. But might it also be the case that the very persons who ought to be troubled by this phenomenon will say to themselves (perhaps not out loud), “good riddance, we won’t be bothered by those dissenting voices anymore? We wish more of their ilk would leave.”
The letter is reprinted gloatfully by a Catholic site here:
Orthodox Lutheran Bait and Switch
Here's a shocker at an "Orthodox Lutheran Blog." The author, unknown to me, has joined the Church of Rome, leaving his blog up to snare more Lutherans, I suspect. Here it is:
Orthodox Lutheran (sic)
I prefer something a little more honest - The Friends of the Poor Souls of Purgatory - the Church of Rome, as it really is:
Friends of the Poor Souls of Purgatory
Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne
Some people are chortling over this letter, having a liberal in ELCA hand it to his bishop in ELCA. "Lookee here, Martha, all them guys were liberal LCMS at one time." Wait, there's more. Concordia, Ft. Wayne often produces a graduate per year who immediately joins the Eastern Orthodox. One man, as I recall, earned some kind of doctorate at Ft. Wayne, then announced his intentions to semi-pope upon graudating. The reason is that faculty members at Ft. Wayne are propagandizing for Eastern Orthodoxy. I would not be surprised to find that several pastors I know heading East in the future.
Why Oh Why?
The Lutheran Church in the United States has lost its nerve. The Lutheran leaders were cleverly persuaded to study at Fuller Seminary (ELCA, WELS, LCMS, ELS, and probably a few from the crazy sects). They were executives who then recruited their underlings. Ambitious men realized that aping Fuller was good for a career. They joined their brothers in chopping down anyone who questioned the Fuller mantra. Not everyone knew who the Fuller Mafia members were, but they sure knew who their critics were.
The Catholic website above brags about 2,000 Lutheran and Evangelical leaders who have poped in the last few years. I know of prominent Evangelicals who joined Rome as well. The numbers may be exaggerated, but the trend is obvious.
The Fuller Mafia set about destroying Lutheran worship and any notion of the efficacy of the Word. One pastor was kicked out of WELS for insisting on the efficacy of the Word alone. He was told to agree with a letter from an administrator - or else. He is not allowed communion in WELS or the ELS.
There is hardly any difference between ELCA, Missouri, WELS, and the ELS now. One can name differences of degree, but not true differences. ELCA ordains women, but WELS sets up women in authority over men and has women teaching men as often as possible. ELCA advocates open communion. WELS, the ELS, and Missouri practice open communion while saying they practice closed or close communion. ELCA pays for abortion through its health insurance program, but WELS has no problem with a man aborting his own bastard child and serving as a pseudo-pastor. ELCA is in bed with the pope, but WELS and the ELS both invite Roman Catholics to give religious talks at their institutions of higher learning. ELCA supports pan-religious services, the more religions the better. The LCMS officer, Wallace Schulz, who opposed this at Yankee Stadium was fired from his Lutheran Hour position and voted out of office. However, Mr. Ecumenical, the LCMS District President Al Benke, was voted back into office.
Meanwhile, the Church of Rome is quite confident of itself, recruiting heavily, and bragging about its converts on a zillion websites and blogs. Who made the Lutheran Church roadkill on the highway to Hell? Here is the honor roll:
LCA/ALC/ELCA presidents: Fry, Marshall, David Preus, Crumley, Chilstrom, Hanson
LCMS presidents: Behnken, Harms, Preus, Bohlmann, Barry, Kieschnick
WELS presidents: Naumann (started CGM), Mischke, Gurgel
ELS presidents: Orvick, Pope John the Malefactor
The Lutheran seminaries are not guardians of pure doctrine but Distribution Centers (the Wal-Mart model) of false doctrine. Both Concordia seminaries set up D.Min. programs in Church Growth. WELS made their chief Church Growth proponent, David Valleskey, the president of their seminary. The ELS supported Church Growth with seminars from Robert Hartman (an early TELL editor, TELL founded to promote the CGM). If a man makes it through Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary without being brain-washed in Church Growth, an unlikely event, he will be forced to return in a year for a special propanganda session from the the Church Growth troika of Lawrence Otto Olson (D.Min., Fuller Seminary), James Huebner, and Paul Kelm.