In the October 25, 1974, issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY we published an interview with President J. A. O. Preus of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Some Lutherans asked for a presentation of the other side of the dispute, and in this issue we publish what is, in effect, a rejoinder by John Tietjen, the former president of Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. And, as a church historian and a long-time observer of the Missouri Synod scene, I here add my own evaluation.

Two major denominations in the United States that escaped the effects of the modernist-fundamentalist controversy earlier in the twentieth century were the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Southern Baptist Convention. Now both are embroiled in a struggle similar to that which took place in the other denominations decades ago. The Missouri Synod battle is reaching a climax sooner; the Southern Baptists are some years behind.

In all the denominations the outcome of the struggle between the modernists and the fundamentalists was the same: the fundamentalists lost; the “broadening church” concept prevailed. These denominations, including those now known as the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the American Baptist Churches, the Lutheran Church of America, the Episcopal Church, and the United Presbyterian Church, became inclusivist bodies with theologically mixed constituencies that hold and proclaim varying and even conflicting views. Today the mainstream denominations include people whose theological views range from fundamentalism on the right to sheer humanism on the left. The breadth of the theological spectrum and the distribution within it vary considerably from one denomination to another.

In the Missouri Synod today, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.