The crucial Denver convention of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has come and gone, leaving mystified observers shaking their heads in bewilderment here and abroad. Hardly had the convention begun when Dr. J. A. O. Preus, the conservative president of the synod’s Springfield seminary, replaced (almost on the first ballot) the mediating-to-liberal incumbent synodical president Oliver Harms. A few days later, the same convention voted its approval of pulpit-and-altar fellowship with the American Lutheran Church—a move consistently opposed by Preus and other synod conservatives because of the ALC’s latitudinarianism on the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, its fellowship with the liberal Lutheran Church in America, and its membership in the unionistic Lutheran World Federation and World Council of Churches.
Having witnessed at close range the kaleidoscopic shifts in the French political climate, I was perhaps better prepared for these apparently inexplicable results than would otherwise have been the case. In France one learns that inconsistency in surface behavior can often be explained consistently if one strikes deeper.
The election of Dr. Preus cannot be attributed—as sour-grapes liberal inside and outside the synod are claiming—to “underground,” “anti-harmonistic,” “reactionary” forces that endeavored to gain control of the synod for their “nefarious right-wing purposes.” Certainly efforts were made to convince delegates to vote a particular way. But this activity was carried on by both sides, as it inevitably is in any democracy. The election itself was entirely aboveboard, and the delegates were free to make their own decisions, which they did. ...1
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