Monday, November 29, 2010

Bronze Age Lutherans II

What happened to the Bronze Age Lutherans in the LCMS after Seminex? I noted in my first article that they were immediately challenged by conservative/confessionalist forces. These people are disciples or Robert Preus, Kurt Marquart, David Scaer, and Norman Nagel, among others. The great literary voice for this movement is Herman Sasse. (It should be noted that one of the most prolific translators of Sasse is LCMS president Rev. Matthew Harrison.)

But just because a new voice successfully challenged the re-ascendancy of the Bronzies, doesn't mean that they went away. So what happened to them? They became Fullerites. (A Fullerite is a follower of the theology of Fuller Seminary. It is sometimes also called, quite erroneously, church growth theology.) Fullerism is about as anti Lutheran as you can get. It is a based on the belief that the church is built by human power and human methods. Further, it embraces an ends justify the means type approach.

How did Bronzies get hooked into Fullerism. In the wake of Seminex, I think there was the realization that something had to fill the void left by liberal theology. These men had no faith or interest in the Lutheran confessions. Nor do they have a strong sacramental theology. Further, many Bronzies seemed embarrassed by Lutheranism. They tend to apologize for Lutheranism, rather than defend it. With this was also the belief that growth would be seen as God's stamp of approval. And so if the Bronzies could grow the LCMS using Fullerite methods, they would be seen as fit to lead.

Sadly, the result has been endless controversy, no growth, and a massive waist of money and resources. One would think that after all these years of effort, people would see that Fullerism is an utter failure. But for the Bronze Age Lutheran, admitting failure is not an option. The only other game in town is confessionalism. Since they don't really believe in the confession, or the office of the ministry, or sacraments, or means of grace, this becomes a major problem.

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