Racially friendly denominations may surprise you

A sociologist tested what denominations were most open to new people from different races.  His team sent e-mails purportedly from whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians to different churches, asking the pastors about attending their church.

Evangelicals overwhelmingly answered the e-mails and encouraged the new people, of whatever race, to attend.   Mainline liberal denominations, on the other hand, for all of their emphasis on social justice, were not nearly so welcoming.  Catholics didn’t do so well either.

Interestingly, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, classified with the “evangelicals,” came in at second place in welcoming people of different races (after Willow Creek).  The much more liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, however, came in third from the bottom.

Why do you think this is?


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Removing a heterodox pastor

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is getting criticized for expelling a pastor and professor for publicly rejecting what the church believes.  But Aaron D. Wolf of Chronicles Magazine praises the LCMS for being willing to take this kind of action. [Read more...]

What’s the difference between pastors and laypeople?

Rev. Adam Roe, in his series on vocation at Mission: Work, observes that Philip Melanchthon, author of the Augsburg Confession and other key texts in the Book of Concord, was a layman.  Pastor Roe uses this fact as an example of “the priesthood of all believers,” going on to show how the doctrine of vocation shows how God is graciously active and present  in all of life.

Now Rev. Roe is a pastor in the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC).  I’m in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).  There are, indeed, different strains of Lutheranism.  I get the feeling that we Missouri Synod Lutherans have a higher view of the pastoral office than the LCMC.  Rev. Roe emphasizes God’s real presence in lay vocations, such as farming and parenthood, but he seems to have more of a functionalist view of the pastoral office.  My impression is that neither kind of calling is just a function, but that both are genuine channels for God’s workings, though in different ways.  Then again, I’m aware that within the LCMS are some differences in the theology of the pastoral office.  Then again, I, like Melanchthon, am a humble layman, but unlike Melanchthon, I’m not up on all of the theological nuances. Read what Rev. Roe has to say, excerpted and linked after the jump, and help me out here. [Read more...]

Evangelizing the condemned Nazis

Last year almost to the day we blogged about  Rev. Henry Gerecke, the LCMS military chaplain who was pressed into service as the Protestant chaplain at Nuremberg, charged with ministering to the Nazi war criminals who were on trial there, many of whom were executed.  There is now  book out about Chaplain Gerecke:  Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend.

It tells how he used both firmness and compassion, applying both the Law and the Gospel, in an effort to bring these moral monsters to repentance and to Christ.  Which he apparently did with at least 4 of the 11 who were hanged.  Then again, Hermann Goering repudiated Christianity just hours before he committed suicide by biting a  smuggled cyanide tablet, calling Jesus “just another smart Jew.”  After the jump, an excerpt from a review of the book.
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What the LCMS believes about the Bible

We blogged about the Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the LCMS.  President Harrison has now posted an excerpt from the Statement of Biblical and Confessional Principles, passed by convention in 1973, in response to the church schism over the inerrancy of Scripture.  But that’s not all the statement affirms, setting off the Lutheran view also from that of some other theologies, including those that also affirm inerrancy. [Read more...]

Open questions

Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, posted a passage from the Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod (1932) regarding “Open Questions.”  It makes the wise point that Scripture does not clearly answer all theological questions, and so the Church may not offer definitive answers to them.  See the passage after the jump.

First, can anyone explain the confessional status of the Brief Statement?  Is acceptance of this document obligatory for Missouri Synod Lutherans?  Just pastors?  Laymen?  (The only requirements for formal subscription I’ve come across are to the Scriptures and to the confessions in the Book of Concord.)  This statement affirms things like the inerrancy of Scripture and the Six Days of Creation, but it leaves out important Lutheran doctrines such as the Theology of the Cross and Vocation.

Second, what ARE some of these open questions?  I suspect there are different positions on whether the Scriptures are clear or not on some issues. [Read more...]