Not Just an Internal Problem

Every so often on Facebook or in response to a blog post, someone will ask, “Why are you publicizing the church’s problems? This is in house and should be kept in house.” The same thing is often said by those who abuse their spouse and children. Yes, I am going there, and I do think they are comparable.

The idea (in both cases) comes from the mistaken impression that our sin only affects us. It doesn’t. And the perfect illustration of why I’m right happened to me yesterday.

As you may have heard, the Saint Louis Seminary Journal published an article by John Jurchen of Concordia University, Nebraska. This is the same Concordia University Nebraska whose president Brian Friedrich (along with then-District President Russell Sommerfeld) insisted from the floor of the synod convention that all CUNE teaching was in keeping with Scripture and the Confessions. The article by Dr. Jurchen encouraged Lutherans to believe that death occurred before sin, “Day” actually means “Millions of years”, and evolution is true. These are all damnable heresies, not to be tolerated in the church of God.

Yesterday, I was talking to one of the citizens of my local community. They are faithful members of a Baptist church. Their daughter is seriously considering attending CUNE – to study biology. I assured them that people from other churches are very kindly received at our Concordias. She would likely really enjoy her time there.

But. There was a danger. If she attended our local public University, of course all biology classes would be taught from a secular materialist perspective – There is no God, Earth is Billions of years old, Evolution is true, etc. Attending a Concordia – which officially teaches the biblical doctrine of creation in six days at the command of God – might make her relax and assume everything she will be taught is actually true.

I warned her, (and I only know this to be true specifically about Concordia University in Seward Nebraska) that her daughter would be taught theistic evolution in her classes. And they would teach her that this position is faithful to Holy Scripture. This is a pile of dung, and it stinketh unto the heavens. More seriously, it is lie of Satan and will drag souls into hell. She must be prepared for such garbage if she is to attend CUNE.

That’s what I told this kind Christian woman last night. A woman who is not a member of the LCMS, who is not a Lutheran of any sort, who (until three days ago) had no vested interest in anything that happens in my church. But who, if she was not warned, could have had her daughter fall away from the faith at a supposedly “safe” conservative Christian college.

And that is why I write and post on social media regarding these matters. For the most part, my writings are not read by non-Lutherans. My friends list is more than 80% Lutheran. My blog stats would embarrass even a hermit on Mars. But I know a few people regularly read what I write: other pastors, interested laymen, and members of my parish. Every so often, what I write strikes a cord, and it spreads beyond my inner circle. That’s great, but not necessary. My job is not to be popular. It is to be faithful.

And if there is false teaching in my church, I will use every means of shouting “Wolf in the Fold!” I will use every tool at my disposal to protect the sheep entrusted to me: Sermons, bible classes, blog posts, and even facebook rants. Because that is what I am called to do. That’s the difference between a faithful shepherd and a hireling who is only interested in his bank account and pension. Those who worry about “what effect it will have on the church’s reputation” if we expose false teachers in the church, while not removing them, are generally in the latter category, not the first. It may not make me popular with the powers that be in the hierarchy of my church’s structure. One of them suggested to me a few days ago that I “stop being offensive.” It is sad that I offend him. But The One I try to please is… well, to borrow a phrase, let’s just say that He’s “above their pay grade.”


If you liked this blog post, you would really love reading this biography of Martin Luther. It treats Luther as the “Angel with the clear and everlasting Gospel” of Revelation 12. Great for Reformation 500!


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8 Responses to Not Just an Internal Problem

  1. icjoys says:

    I have read the article you referenced several times, and I did not see where Dr. Jurchen encouraged Lutherans to believe in death before sin or days meaning millions of years. I read explanations of the LCMS’s stance on some of these and other creation issues. I think I would better understand your viewpoint with quotes from the article instead of what you view as the intent of the article.

    • Country Preacher says:

      Are you certain you are reading the correct article? Maybe you got the wrong article. That’s the downside of my refusal to link to it. But I won’t.
      “Old earth creation… the six days of creation are expanded to include geological time scales… Adherents can accept the standard, secular interpretation of the geological record while still holding to an exegetically credible six-day (yom) creation…”
      “…myriads of organisms lived and died in the ages that constitute the creation week…”
      I’ve never seen an article that stated those things so clearly.

    • Carl says:

      That’s exactly what I thought as well. One should present evidence to bolster their claim. It would help the reader conclude if said heresy charge was accurate or not.

    • Rev. North P. Sherrill says:

      page 70, last paragraph; page 72, 2nd full paragraph; last paragraph on page 73.

  2. An inquirer says:

    Over the course of reading this post and the previous post on Dr. Jurchen’s paper, I’ve noticed a few points you make that you don’t appear to have basis for, and I also have a few questions. If you could attempt to clear any of this up, I’d be glad to hear your response.

    1. Dr. Jurchen clearly states that the style of Old-Earth Creation that appears to be compatible with the LCMS confessions and resolutions is following the idea of intelligent design, which is different from theistic evolution. Theistic evolution states that God merely put the process of evolution into motion while intelligent design states that he intervened during the process. As such, the idea that he is promoting theistic evolution is untrue.
    2. I don’t see how Dr. Jurchen could be teaching the contents of his paper at CUNE seeing as he teaches neither biology nor theology but chemistry. Hence, I find it a shame that you suggested that the woman’s daughter would be taught theistic evolution based off of Dr. Jurchen’s article.
    3. In your last article, you used Romans 5:12 as a defense of no animal death prior to the fall, but it clearly says “death spread to all men” which does not include animals and so does not appear to defend your point. A quote Dr. Jurchen uses at the end of his paper uses the same passage to defend the position that it cannot be known whether animal death happened before the fall.
    4. Your actual theological distinction with Dr. Jurchen appears to be that you are sure that animal death did not occur before the fall, while Dr. Jurchen simply states that this point is the main distinction between young-earth and old-earth creationists, but Scripture does not appear to point to either side; it only definitively states that the death of man is a result of the fall. He does not explore this aspect in his paper because the LCMS has no official stance on the topic. Do you think the LCMS should officially adopt a stance against animal death before the fall? If so, what passages from the Bible would you use to definitively support it?

  3. Denise Ewing says:

    Other articles in this journal were less direct, but I think even more supportive of evolution. Both Arand and Okamoto agreed with this idea: “In creation the world out of nothing and partnering with his creatures, God has given his creation its own autonomy…”(pg 24, note footnote also). Partnering with his creatures to complete the creation after the initial creation ex nihilo could be a definition of theistic evolution- life would continue to evolve using created initial conditions. Also, I think Jurchen specifically wrote evolution was against LCMS doctrine and was the only one to even briefly bring up issues hinting of the problem of death before the fall, and the geological effects of the flood. – the others didn’t. (Jurchen is apparently an old earth creationist, not a theistic evolutionist. I think older LCMS writings blended the two concepts.) I thought Jurchen was one of the most conservative writers of the Journal, at least he said young earth creationist science could be studied. Others wanted to remove it from science classes – if you wade through their many words….

  4. Denise Ewing says:

    Take a look at the Oct 3, 2018 article titled America’s Clergy Are Teaming Up With Scientists by Rebecca Heilweil. Concordia Seminary in St Louis is prominently featured.

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