The big merger - bigger than Sears/Kmart - is just around the corner. The Synodical Conference sects are tired of secretly working together. In 2017 they will joyously announce they are no longer sparring but smooching again.
The key factor is their overwhelming thrill at discovering their common rejection of Luther's Biblical doctrine. They did this with the Emmaus Conference essay in 2015, coming from an ELS pastor who had just completed an STM degree at ELCA's Institute of Lutheran Theology: ELCA founder, ELCA board members, ELCA/RC faculty.
Their Universal Objective Justification dogma is easily explained in a few sentences.
The bedrock principle is God declaring the entire world forgiven of its sins. When individuals get really cranked up, they say, "I was saved 2000 years ago." Or - as a WELS banner declared to everyone, in the name of evangelism "I am saved just like you." They may call this General Justification, Objective Justification, or Universal Objective Justification, but the principle is the same - universal forgiveness without the Word, without the Means of Grace, without faith.
Giddy with the universality of grace, they go on to say that Judas Iscariot and those who died in the Flood are "guilt-free saints" in Hell. They add Hindu and Hottentots to the list. They tell those who come for pastoral counseling, "You were already forgiven before you came in here."
The name for their bedrock principle comes from the American Calvinist who translated the Halle University lectures of Knapp. These Knapp lectures, in print before the syphilitic bishop Stephan landed in New Orleans with the Waltherians, used the term Objective Justification in an explanatory footnote.
The second part is making a decision to accept this universal absolution of the world. This is not justification by faith. In fact, the UOJ authors studiously avoid the term justification by faith, which is anathema to their dogma, just as Luther's Biblical doctrine is anathema to theirs.
In reality, this two-part OJ/SJ construction collapses into Objective Justification alone. Why? Because their SJ is nothing more than agreeing that the entire world has already been forgiven. It is the Arminian form (decision theology) of Universalism.
And that explains how all the modern, apostate, mainline theologians and denominations became Universalists.
All of Protestantism came through the second era of Pietism. The history is like this -
- Pietism as the merger of Calvinism and Lutheranism, based on Spener, Halle, and cell groups.
- Biblical Rationalism based at Halle University as the degenerate form of Pietism. Schleiermacher is the big hero of this era, which gave birth to the Life of Jesus books, the Historical Critical Method of attacking the Bible, and the open embrace of Universalism (Tholuck, Hoenecke's mentor).
- The New Pietism, the reaction of believers against the rationalistic takeover of the state churches and universities. Stephan and the Walther circle represented this group. They were called "Pietists" and "mystics" and largely kept from official positions. Walther's father was a rationalist, but the brothers connected with two Pietist leaders and participated in Pietistic cell groups/conventicles. The New Pietists called themselves Old Lutherans at times, but they were really a hybrid of rationalism and Pietism.