The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Memories and Missed Steps at Christian News

The Lion Sleeps Tonight can be heard on a TV commercial.

I was listening to some Doo Wop songs last night, including such classics Sixteen Candles, Duke of Earl,  and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Some songs have kept groups working for 50 years; now many concerts have been arranged to feature them while the original artists are still alive.

That reminded me of our upcoming 50th class reunion. Mrs. Ichabod has been absorbed into my class, so it is just as much her reunion. A lot of Moliners went to Augustana College and knew both of us. Many of the original class members are no longer alive, including my best friend in high school. But others are in daily contact on Facebook, and we go back to Garfield Elementary School, now closed. When I saw the photo of the Garfield water fountain, I remembered that day the big kids of the sixth grade picked me up to drink from it. They looked like giants to me.

Christian News is reprinting the glory days of the Seminex fight, which the LCMS lost while celebrating their win. We were all young then - and fascinated that Lutherans could be in the news for a year. The more I learned about the LCA, where I was serving, calling the conservatives the bad guys, the more I saw what the differences were.



I was really Augustana Synod, although that group was merged into the LCA. I was confirmed at an Augustana congregation by an Augustana pastor and went to Augustana College, which was populated by Augustana Synod students and professors. Our Greek professor drove with his wife to attend our wedding in South Bend, which was conducted mainly by our Augustana pastor. I lived where the synod grew, which is also where they built their seminary. Their famous geology professor graduated from my high school.

Augustana - like the LCMS, WELS, and ELS - was a blend of orthodoxism and Pietism. In orthodoxism, every old writer's publications is fed into the brains of the followers. Names become somewhat familiar but never overcome the framework of the synod patriarchs. At Augustana Seminary the same doctrinal summary text was used for 40 years, the only change being the switch form Swedish edition to the English translation.

Doctrinal conflict causes people to look at the Scriptures and Confessions anew. By chance - if it was chance - my dissertation at Notre Dame was about an Augustana Seminary professor who was a Social Gospel advocate. As readers may recall, the main Social Gospel representative - Rauschenbursch - came from the Northern, liberal Baptists who re-interpreted Scripture via rationalism.

So I plunged int to the history of the Social Gospel Movement itself, which came into the mainline denominations through the National Council of Churches and into politics through Franklin Roosevelt administration. The dreams of government control became the reality and then the Gospel itself.

I said, "Our synod is not Lutheran. It is liberal Baptist Social Gospel!" To prove that, without trying, Franklin C. Fry's son gave a talk at a conference where he used the typical SG explantiona of the Good Samaritan. "Our job is more than binding the wounds of stricken. We have to make the roads to Jericho safe!"

That began our slug-like movement into the conservative side, where the residents jeer, "You have to join us to be real Lutherans!" and later chant "You are not one of us because you were not born in our synod!" The second chant is a blessing, although they do not know it.



Pastor Herman Otten would like to enchant his readers back into the glory days, but how many steps were missed on the way to this skirmish?


Attacking the Chief Article of Christianity - Foundational Error
When Papenfuss asked his members to kiss the foot of Pope JP Meyer - purveyor of UOJ at Mequon - the Kokomo Statements blew up in WELS and the LCMS. This would have been a great time to study Justification by Faith, according to the Scriptures, Luther, and the Book of Concord. But Otten sided with UOJ because Stephan, Walther, and Pieper taught UOJ, straight out of Halle. God has visited the LCMS-WELS-ELS-CLC(sic) with the most horrible haters of sound doctrine to punish faithless Lutherans for siding with forgiveness without faith, salvation without faith. They all work with ELCA because they agree with ELCA Pietists who reached honest Universalism before they did. Of course, they all have their Lavender Mafia, another kind of fellowship, but that is just the fruit of their dogma.




Selling the Beck Bible - Leading People Away from the English Luther Bible - the KJV
I remember when the ignominious RSV was not yet done. The KJV owned the English denominations and dominated the English language. We were a lot more literate then - in ordinary language and in the words of faith. Christian News joined the rush to have a new translation published every week or so, and the Beck Bible had several radical changes before it sank into oblivion. Otten led Lutherdom in abandoning the KJV and its many modernized versions, some of which are quite good. We do not read the original KJV, even when we think we are. It was very slightly modernized, back a century or so. The Babtists love their New KJV because the key doctrinal passages are twisted to fit their dogma and to avoid troubling references to the Sacraments.



Kissing the Papal Ring by Selling - Yes Selling - A Lying Anti-Luther Rant Published by Rome
Did I see a reference in the new issue about being critical of the Church of Rome? Ha! Christian News had the brass to sell an anti-Luther book in its Reformation issue. That is a bow - or rather a genuflection - for the Roman Catholic readers. In fact, the only consistent editorial policy is to please every faction in every denomination that considers itself "conservative." God preserve us from the conservative Roman Catholics, who would likely bring back burning at the stake if they could get away with it.


The four sects of the Synodical Conference make sure that Otten spikes the stories about their DUIs, drunks, and abusive pastors. If a WELS vicar is sent to state prison for his crimes against a minor girl, "counseling her," Christian News will spike the story. If the FBI arrives at WELS headquarts, for good reason, because of porn swapping by their PR guy, the story is bleached, bromided, santized, and sent to page 17 to be overlooked. Otten's certification is always Page 1! - above the fold.