CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S Current Religious Thought column is a popular and sometimes explosive feature. In this issue John Montgomery, a Lutheran, writes a hard-hitting piece on the troubles of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Contributors to this column have freedom to express their views, and what they say does not necessarily reflect editorial opinion.
Montgomery has drawn attention to a sticky problem that is troubling more than one denomination today. How are deviant theology and dissent from creeds and statements of faith to be handled? What should denominations do about their seminaries that have moved away from their theological underpinnings and about professors who promulgate aberrant views? The current plight of several denominations can be traced to their failure to deal with unbelief when it first reared its head. For some it is now too late. But for those where correction is still a possibility, how shall it come about?
In the case of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the defeat of Dr. Harms and the selection of Dr. Preus to succeed him were a sign of discontent and a mandate for corrective action. Probably Dr. Preus has discovered, as most presidents of the United States have, that from campaign promises to their fulfillment is a giant step. He and his associates need time to implement their mandate and to maintain the integrity of the synod’s historic witness without doing irreparable damage to its structures.1
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