The editors ofCHRISTIANITY TODAYrecently interviewed Dr. J. A. O. Preus, president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which has been in the throes of a major theological controversy. Besides giving his side of the dispute, he put in context some terms like “Seminex” and “moratorium,” now household words to those who have been following the struggle closely. Here is the edited distillation of the exclusive interview, which took place in the Washington offices ofCHRISTIANITY TODAY:
Question. What is the main theological issue in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod?
Answer. The authority of the Bible.
Q. Is there more to the difficulties than theology?
A. When people are involved in arguments on any subject, political issues and personality conflicts develop, but these are a result of the main problem. The moderates by their constant discussion of personalities, distortion of the facts, and emphasis on personalities and politics are obfuscating the doctrinal issue.
Q. Who are the “moderates”?
A. The moderates are made up largely of clergy, and primarily of younger graduates of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis who hold to, or are sympathetic or permissive toward, the use of the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation.
Q. If schism occurred, what portion of the local congregations do you think would remain within the denomination?
A. We have had three schisms in the last generation, and no more than thirty congregations left each time. I would be very surprised if more than twenty-five congregations would leave because of the present struggle. The synodical structure makes it very difficult for congregations to leave, and the people are loyal to the Missouri Synod because of its doctrinal commitment and its educational ...1