Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dr. Noland on Issues, Etc.

Dr. Martin Noland, former director of the Concordia Historical Institute, was recently interviewed on Issues, Etc. concerning Lutheran denominations in America. Here are a couple of quotes of Dr. Noland being interviewed by Host Todd Wilken:

Pastor Wilken:

One of the most conservative theologians in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Dr. James Nestingen, was once asked on this program, “Why don’t you just join the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod if your concerns are so great about your own?” And his answer was “The Church Growth movement.” What do you think Dr. Nestigen meant?...

Dr. Noland:

His concern is that we’re heading down the path of ruin as far as the Lutheran Church is concerned, because when you replace doctrine with growth or numbers, growth is gonna win and doctrine’s gonna lose. And I think Nestigen, he’s using what time he has in retirement to shore up what’s left of Lutheranism in the ELCA, and I commend him for that. But no, he’s right. The point, this has been a big problem and will continue to be until our leadership takes a firm stand on these issues of church growth.

A little later in the show:

Pastor Wilken:

In the vein of kind of the future of denominations, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, its current President Gerald Kieschnick, has through various actions been asking big questions about whether or not the structure of this Lutheran Church body should remain the way it is. It appears to me that what’s being pushed here is the switch from a doctrinal model of organization, that is, for ecclesiastical supervision, congregations are the basic unit, and we have a sound theological understanding of ourselves as a synod, as a church body. A switch from a doctrinal model to a kind of a corporate business model. How does that bode for the future of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod?

Dr. Noland:

Well it bodes very badly if this is the direction the Synod goes, and I’m saying “if.” I’m not making an assumption that the Synod is going to accept that at the next convention or maybe the one thereafter. But there are actually two things. First off, you’re right, that the doctrine would take second, third, maybe last place in order of priorities under that type of organization. But the other issue that I see is collegiality. I’ve been around, my family, my ancestors have been around the Missouri Synod for a long time, and one thing I can tell the difference under the current generation of leaders in the Missouri Synod compared to previous generations, and I’m talking about pastors that retired in the 1960's, is the pastors in the 1960's were collegial. They viewed each other as equals even when they were in a higher office, or in a professorship position. And I’m not sure that I can say about this group that’s here today, and with the type of proposals that they’re suggesting for structure it will be the end of collegiality. What they really want is various classes of pastors and laymen and church workers, and not to treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, because that used to be one of the strengths of the Missouri Synod. Not just a democratic organization, but a sense of equality. And I’m afraid that we’re losing that. I don’t want to lose it, because I think it’s a great gift that was given to our church by its original founders.


Michael Paul said...

Very interesting and insightful. Thank you for apparently transcribing and posting this here!

Christopher Gillespie said...

I think Nestigen is on campus next week for an intensive but I have too many conflicts to attend.