Sunday, February 3, 2008

Is the LCMS Under a Curse?

I am currently making my way through Dr. Paul Zimmerman's book A Seminary in Crisis that I reported about here at least a year ago. It is a fascinating insight into that era in Missouri's history which led up to the famed "walkout" at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Since the events took place when I was but a teenager, it is interesting now to catch up with history and learn what I could not have known then.

After I purchased the book I saw Dr. Ed Schroeder has written a critique of it on his Crossings site, although I only read a portion of it at the time. I just finished reading all three parts. You can read all them for yourself, but I do want to draw your attention to one section. Although Dr. Schroeder attempts to distance himself from any personal bitterness of those years (He was eventually dismissed as professor due to false teaching), this bitterness - in my opinion, at least - leaks out when he claims with prophetic insight that Missouri is actually under a curse for its actions at New Orleans in the summer of 1973. Admittedly he is in large part also reacting to Dr. Zimmerman's claim of blessing on Missouri for the resolution of the issue of false teaching at the seminary. He writes in a late night email to current LCMS President Kieschnick:

“Here's the main point.
In the Small Catechism, Chief Part 1, Luther makes it a point to quote the Bible's own words about commandment-breakers--8th commandment-breakers included--that "God visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations."
Missouri's continuing turmoil, according to this Word of God, will continue, since God Himself continues to "visit" Missouri for that 8th commandment violation of 34 years ago. How can that not be true?
How to stop God being Missouri's critic? You know the answer. It was Jesus' drumbeat: "Repent," and having repented, "trust the Good News."
So to bring God's own peace back into Missouri, Missouri needs to rescind New Orleans 3-09 just as publicly as it gave that false witness way back then. Not for political reasons, but for pastoral ones, for Missouri's own peace with God. And then to trust the Good News anew.
I know that you know what Jesus says are the consequences of unrepentance in such passages as Luke 13:5. It's not that we who are still alive (about half) of the original 45 need our names cleared. Christ has already done that. It's Missouri who is in trouble--trouble with God.
Are you not called to the kingdom for just such a time as this? I think so.”

It is interesting that any current unrest in Missouri is attributed to our sin against those who were condemned for false teaching. Sounds a bit bitter to me, Dr. Schroeder. Perhaps a more balanced view might simply look to the suffering and sin that the church must wrestle with this side of heaven until Christ releases us when he returns in glory at the end of time. The church lives under the cross. That's why there's unrest. The devil strives against us. That's why there's unrest. Calling false teaching for what it is also brings strife, and we know this especially from the prophets of old. But Missouri is specifically under a curse? Now, Dr. Schroeder, that seems to contradict your continued call for the Gospel to predominate in all things. Anyway, the world itself is under a curse from the fall into sin, a curse that was assumed by our Lord at the cross on our behalf. Targeting Missouri specifically seems more than a bit off the mark....

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