Sermons and Papers

The Secularization of the Church's Dogma, Liturgy, and Polity

by Martin R. Noland
April 15, 1998
Paper presented to the Conference of the Lutheran Concerns Association

I. Introduction

In the "Battle for the Bible" in the 1960s and 1970s, the man and woman in the Missouri Synod pew rightly perceived that the liberals were attacking their Holy Bible. In that "battle," the liberals were a clearly defined enemy of piety and faith. But the continued struggle for Lutheran orthodoxy in the Missouri Synod since 1979 is not so clear-cut. The issues are diverse and confusing and the "enemy" is not at all obvious.1 Some might even be tempted to agree with Walt Kelly's comic strip character Pogo who said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

This essay is an attempt to define the issues and conflicts which threaten Lutheran orthodoxy in our day. The conflicts today have both external and internal sources. The external sources include various pan-Christian movements: the ecumenical movement, the feminist movement, the multi-culturalist movement, the post-modernist movement, the charismatic movement, the church growth movement, and the alternative worship movement.2

Perhaps the most pervasive external source of conflict has been the influence of American neo-Evangelicalism, which has caused a general erosion of those Lutheran doctrines and practices which are not held in common with the Evangelicals. Internal sources of conflict in the LC-MS today include: the increasing secularization of the synod's system of higher education, the increasing power of the executives and bureaucrats in the synod's governing structures, and the increasing subordination of parishes and parish pastors to the powers of district presidents.

Is there any good reason to hold onto the Missouri Synod? I think there is an excellent reason to hold onto the Battleship U.S.S. Missouri: BIG SHIPS HAVE BIG GUNS! Did you see the reaction in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (hereafter ELCA), when our "Commodore Barry"3 fired a couple of well-aimed salvos off the starboard bow at the 1997 ELCA Ecumenical Proposals?4 Barry's criticism of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic ecumenical proposal was even affirmed this February by 140 of Germany's most prominent Protestant theologians, including Jrgen Moltmann, Gerhard Ebeling, and Martin Hengel.5 Our sister churches throughout the world look to the Missouri Synod for the sort of flagship leadership that President A. L. Barry has provided during his tenure.

If the Missouri Synod is worth holding onto, as I would contend, how can we alleviate the conflicts that afflict her? I am convinced that we need to step back from the individual issues and look at the big picture. Is there a single force that stands behind the diverse issues which threaten the church's dogma, liturgy, and polity? I think that there is such a force, which transcends the level of individual issues. That force is the process of secularization.

II. The Process of Secularization

What is secularization? The biblical description of "secularization" is found in Romans 12:2, where Saint Paul warns us: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." "World" in the Latin Vulgate is saeculo, in the New Testament Greek it is aion. In this context, aion is best translated as the "sphere of temporal things and concerns." "Secularization" in the biblical sense thus means to lose one's vision of and belief in the eternal things. It is a "blindness" to the sacred things which are the proper object of religion and theology.

In modern usage, "secularization" is a term used by sociologists, particularly in the field of the sociology of religion.6 In his book The Sacred Canopy, Peter Berger notes how the term "secularization" was originally employed during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to denote the removal of property from ecclesiastical control.7 Ever since that time, the term "secularization" has been used in a much wider sense. It is used ideologically by "progressives" to promote the liberation of man from religion and by "traditionalists" to decry the paganization of society.8

Berger gives the following excellent definition of "secularization":

By secularization we mean the process by which sectors of society and culture are removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols. When we speak of society and institutions in modern Western history, of course, secularization manifests itself in the evacuation by the Christian churches of areas previously under their control or influence -- as in the separation of church and state, or in the expropriation of church lands, or in the emancipation of education from ecclesiastical authority. When we speak of culture and symbols, however, we imply that secularization is more than a social-structural process. It affects the totality of cultural life and of ideation, and may be observed in the decline of religious contents in the arts, in philosophy, in literature, and most important of all, in the rise of science as an autonomous, thoroughly secular perspective on the world. Moreover, it is implied here that the process of secularization has a subjective side as well. As there is a secularization of society and culture, so there is a secularization of consciousness. Put simply, this means that the modern West has produced an increasing number of individuals who look upon the world and their own lives without the benefit of religious interpretations.9

According to Berger, secularization occurs in three realms: 1) in social institutions; 2) in cultural ideas, symbols, and objects; and 3) in the consciousness of individuals. The concept of "secularization" thus describes the process how religion incrementally loses its influence over society, culture, and consciousness and is replaced by non-religious ideas and values.

As a theologian, I might be tempted to believe that the chief threat to the believer is false doctrine. As a sociologist, Berger warns us that what an individual ACTUALLY believes depends, to a large degree, on the social support which he receives for those beliefs. Berger calls this phenomenon "plausibility" and the social institutions which support religious beliefs "plausibility structures."10 In Christendom, the church, its public ministry, and the family are the most important plausibility structures. When these plausibility structures are eroded or removed from the believer, his beliefs will inevitably be secularized. Even the Lutheran confessions recognize the role of plausibility, when they acknowledge that God's grace comes also "through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren" (SA III, iv).

Berger observes that the most important corollary of secularization is the phenomenon of "pluralization." There is a bilateral relationship between pluralization and secularization. On the one hand, a government policy of secularization invites pluralism. On the other hand, a pluralistic situation erodes the authority of plausibility structures, thus leading to the secularization of consciousness.11 The relativistic effects of pluralism are manifested when people respond to sound theological reasoning with the words, "But that's just YOUR interpretation."

There is one other major corollary of secularization. It is the withdrawal of religious ideas and values from the public life of society into the private sphere, which Berger calls "individuation."12 Through individuation the world-building power of religion is restricted to the construction of sub-worlds, which may be no larger than the nuclear family. In the most extreme form of individuation, religion is reduced to private ethics and has no bearing on public life whatsoever.

III. Secularization and Calvinism

During the "Battle for the Bible," Missouri Synod conservatives often looked to Evangelical theologians for support in the doctrine of Scripture. I contend that excessive reliance by conservative Lutherans on Calvinist and Evangelical theologians will prove to be a fatal mistake in the present conflict. Concerned Evangelicals should look to us Lutherans for answers to the problem of secularization, not vice versa.13

Why are Lutherans in a better position to resist secularization than the Evangelicals? This is because Calvinism has historically been the primary religious carrier of secularization. This has been demonstrated in the realm of economic development by Max Weber and R. H. Tawney, under the rubric of what is known as the "Weber Thesis."14

Peter Berger astutely describes the role of Calvinism in the secularization of the Western church:

If compared with the "fullness" of the Catholic universe, Protestantism appears as a radical truncation, a reduction to "essentials" at the expense of a vast wealth of religious contents. This is especially true of the Calvinist version of Protestantism. . . . Protestantism may be described in terms of an immense shrinkage in the scope of the sacred in reality, as compared with its Catholic adversary. The sacramental apparatus is reduced to a minimum, and even there, divested of its more numinous qualities. . . . The immense network of intercession that unites the Catholic in this world with the saints and, indeed, with all departed souls disappears as well. . . . Religiously speaking, the world becomes very lonely indeed.

The Catholic lives in a world in which the sacred is mediated to him through a variety of channels -- the sacraments of the church, the intercession of the saints, the recurring eruption of the "supernatural" in miracles -- a vast continuity of being between the seen and the unseen. Protestantism abolished most of these mediations. . . . In doing this, however, it narrowed man's relationship to the sacred to the one exceedingly narrow channel that it called God's word . . . As long as the plausibility of this conception was maintained, of course, secularization was effectively arrested, even though all its ingredients were already present in the Protestant universe. It needed only the cutting of this one narrow channel of mediation, though, to open the floodgates of secularization.15

The most important difference between Calvinism and its descendants, on the one hand, and Lutheranism, one the other hand, is that the church of the Augsburg Confession has "sacred things" and "sacred acts" besides the Bible. The Lutheran church not only has Holy Scripture, it also has Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, Holy Supper, the Office of the Holy Ministry, and the una sancta, i.e., the Holy Church.

Even the Bible is viewed differently in the Lutheran church. In his Large Catechism, Third Commandment, Luther wrote "The Word of God is the true holy thing above all holy things. . . . By it all the saints themselves have been sanctified" (LC, 10 Comm., 91) . Here Luther compared the true church with the pope's church. He argued that though the pope has more holy relics the true church has the holiest of all "relics" because it has God's Word, which animates and infuses all the sacraments.

Here then is the essential cure for secularization, which comes from the heart of true Lutheran piety. First, preach and teach that these "sacred things" and "sacred acts" are holy. Second, treat them with the respect due sacred things, particularly in the context of worship. As the church rediscovers the true meaning of sacred space, sacred time, sacred office, sacred acts, and sacred things, the process of secularization can be reversed.

IV. Secularization and the Church's Dogma

As we have seen, secularization occurs in several realms. The secularization of the church happens in the realms of ideas, corporate experience, and institutions. These three realms are regulated respectively by the church's dogma, liturgy, and polity. This leads to an important principle: If the church fails to regulate these realms, then the world will determine the church's ideas, corporate experience, and institutions. Those who resist confessional Lutheran dogma, liturgy, and polity are cooperating with the forces of secularization, whether they realize it or not.

The secularization of dogma manifests itself in the Lutheran church most seriously through the demand for open communion. Open communion is being advocated by those who support and edit the Forward newsletter and candidate list,16 by the committee which formulated "A Declaration of Eucharistic Understanding and Practice" published in the newsletter Celebrate!, and apparently by much of the Florida-Georgia District of the Missouri Synod.17 The committee for "A Declaration" asserts that "Lutheran Christians do not disagree in their doctrinal understanding of the Lord's Supper."18 That is simply not true. Lutheran Christians DO disagree in their understanding of the Lord's Supper and now there is a public confession to prove it.

In 1997 the ELCA adopted a "new" sacramental formula in its Ecumenical Proposals. Since Chapter 2 of the ELCA Constitution asserts that the doctrinal formulations in the Book of Concord are only historical testimonies to the faith, the 1997 formula is de facto the current ELCA confession of its Eucharistic faith. The 1997 formula states simply that they "affirm the real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper" together with the Reformed. This is actually an old Reformed eucharistic formula, originating with Luther's Reformed opponent Martin Bucer.

Bucer's eucharistic formula was condemned both by Luther (FC SD VII, 33) and by Article Seven of the Formula of Concord, because it failed to confess the doctrines of "the oral eating of Christ's body and blood" (manducatio oralis) and "the reception by the unworthy to their judgment" (manducatio indignorum).19 These two doctrines are the key to understanding the difference between the Lutheran and Reformed definitions of the term "real presence," which difference the 1997 ELCA formula intentionally obscures. The same two doctrines explain why closed communion is an authentically Lutheran practice and why the Reformed churches have had no qualms about open communion.20

Why is open communion a product of secularization? First, there is the dominical command "Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine" (Matt 7:6). Jesus tells us here how to treat holy things. The foremost "holy thing" in the church is the Sacrament of the Altar. We are not to give it to the unworthy "dogs" or the unclean "swine," because of the judgment which they will incur by receiving the sacrament (I Cor 11:27-34; Heb 10:29-31) .

Jesus' comparison of the unworthy with witless animals means they cannot judge their own worthiness, while open communion asserts that they can. Open communion thereby utterly contradicts Jesus. The reason that this does not disturb the advocates of open communion is that they evidently do not know what a holy thing is. Ignorance of the "sacred" is an essential characteristic of the secular mindset.

Second, open communion is obviously an accommodation to religious pluralism. It would not be an issue if all the members of the community were of the same faith, as is still the case in many European countries. Third, open communion is a concession to individuation, because it transfers the public gatekeeping powers of the church to the private sphere. Open communion prohibits the pastor from exercising the Office of the Keys, making it purely a privatized matter between the believer and God. This restriction of the pastor's authority is directly contrary to the Augsburg Confession (AC XXIV, 6 & 36, Latin) and its Apology (Ap XXIV, 1) .

The secularization of the church's dogma also occurs in a related way through aberrant practices of church fellowship or "unionism." As previously noted, "unionism" is an accommodation with the ecumenical movement, which in turn is an expression of pluralism. Confessions and creeds divide the various faiths of the Christian church. When clergy participate in the services of Word or Sacraments with clergy of other faiths, they repudiate those confessions which divide their faiths, since actions speak louder than words. Clergy which refuse to repent of such unionistic acts should be removed from office, since they do not err in one point of doctrine, but reject the whole corpus doctrinae. They are "bad cops."

V. Secularization and the Church's Liturgy

I have addressed the secularization of liturgy in two articles published in recent years by Logia: "The Christian Philosophy and the Christian Religion" in Easter 199521 and "Order Promoting Tranquility" in Trinity 1997.22 The topic is one of ongoing concern to the editors of Logia. If you want to influence a Lutheran pastor or layman in a positive way in the matter of worship, you should buy him a subscription to Logia23 and an airplane ticket to attend a "Real Life Worship Conference," if there is none in his area.

In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman writes a superb critique of the work of Evangelical television evangelists.24 He makes a convincing case that the medium of television secularizes religion. Religious television shows have now made their presence felt in real life worship, as Postman writes:

There is no doubt, in other words, that religion can be made entertaining. The question is, By doing so, do we destroy it as an "authentic object of culture"? And does the popularity of a religion that employs the full resources of vaudeville drive more traditional religious conceptions into manic and trivial displays? . . . The danger is not that religion has become the content of television shows but that television shows may become the content of religion.25

I might add that, in many cases in our synod, the rock concert is becoming the content of religion.

Lutherans believe that the chief purpose of worship is to deliver the Word and Sacraments. I don't see any Lutheran disagreeing with that proposition. The question lies in everything else outside of the Bible lessons and the distribution of the body and blood. Martin Chemnitz asserted that the purpose of "everything else" in the liturgy was to show

by means of external rites the honor in which we hold the Word, the sacraments, and the remaining churchly functions, and by which others are invited to reverence toward the Word, the sacraments, and the assemblies of the church.26

In other words, the purpose of the liturgy in the Lutheran tradition is to treat the Word and sacraments as the sacred things that they are. When we no longer treat the Word and sacraments as sacred, then the forces of secularization have taken over.

VI. Secularization and the Church's Polity

Church structure is one of the most subtle ways in which the forces of secularization can infiltrate a church. Great churchmen have all too often been chained by a hundred threads of bylaws, deftly woven by crafty "canon lawyers." Such legalistic control is clearly the "way of the Law," not the "way of the Gospel." The best polity gives pastors and parishes the maximum degree of freedom and equality by limiting the powers of their "supervisors" and associated bureaucrats. As Luther said in the Smalcald Articles, "The church cannot be better governed and maintained than by having all of us live under one head, Christ, and by having all the bishops equal in office" (SA II, iv, 9) .

The process of secularization affects the church's polity when corporate hierarchy replaces Gospel equality. In the business world, people are used to working in a strict hierarchy and unconsciously translate this into the world of the church. Thus people believe that church executives and district presidents are the "boss" of the common parish pastor and should therefore have the powers of hiring, firing, and job performance review. The secular mindset of corporate hierarchy became manifest in the Missouri Synod in the bylaw revisions in 1983, 1986, and 1992 pertaining to the disciplinary powers of the district presidents and the process of adjudication.27

Secularization also affects a church's bureaucracy. Under the present bylaws, synodical bureaucrats run their own feudal fiefs without significant accountability to the synod president or to the synod. Diversity makes no sense in the executive branch. If the executive branch does not have unity in implementation, then synod resolutions will not be fulfilled. The synod's Blue Ribbon Committee report reasserts the accountability of bureaucrats to the synod through its president.28 Those who oppose the report's recommendations pertaining to this issue want the bureaucrats to become more secular, by freeing them from accountability to the church. Such opponents probably benefit personally by their influence over the synod's bureaucracy.

One of the classic cases of secularization in the Missouri Synod was the 1992 resolutions which removed its capital and academic sectors from the control of the synodical convention. These actions perfectly fit Berger's definition given above:

Secularization manifests itself in the evacuation by the Christian churches of areas previously under their control or influence -- as in the . . . emancipation of education from ecclesiastical authority.29

The Blue Ribbon Committee report presents the synod with an opportunity to reassert its control over its capital and academic sectors, by permitting the President the power to "call up for review any action" and make a report to the synod if the problem is not resolved (proposed Bylaw 3.101).30 Those who oppose the report's recommendation pertaining to this issue want our schools to become more secular than they already are. Such opponents probably benefit personally by their influence over the synod's capital and academic sectors.

The fight for control between the general synod and personal interests over the synodical agencies will be most critical at the following points. First, the synod must assert control through its election of a majority of members on each board and agency. The most egregious violation of this, in the present bylaws, is the Board of Higher Education, which has more board members appointed by the Concordia Colleges than by the synod (present Bylaw 3.600A). Second, the Board of Directors must retain the power to change any delegation of powers to synod agencies regarding the Synod's property (proposed Bylaw 3.185). Third, all governing instruments of synodical agencies and their amendments must be approved by the Board of Directors (proposed Bylaw 3.197B). Fourth, the formation or dissolution of a synodical agency must be approved by the Board of Directors (proposed Bylaw 3.199). If the synod cannot reassert its control of its capital assets and schools through these four points and the president's power of review, then it may as well kiss its assets and schools goodbye.

VII. Conclusion

The church's struggle against its secularization is perennial, but the forms that secularization takes are, by definition, temporal. The "secular" deals with the here and now, with temporal values and results. The "sacred" deals with the future, with eternal values and results. The temptation is obvious. Those who pursue the secular will be rewarded richly in the here and now, with fame, money, power, and honor. As Jesus says, "Truly they HAVE received their reward!" (Matt 6:2, 5, 16) . They are rewarded, but the church is impoverished. Those who pursue the sacred see few concrete results in the here and now. But they produce enduring results for future generations in the church and THEIR reward waits for them in eternity.


  1. Scaer, "Missouri at the End of the Century: A Time for Reevaluation," Logia 7 #1 (Epiphany 1998):49-52.
  2. These are the same external threats to orthodox Lutheranism which concern the national radio host Don Matzat, as is seen in his recent articles: "Four Movements," Issues, Etc. Journal 2 #6 (Winter 1998): 17-19; as well as his "A Catalog of Issues, Etc. Audio Tapes," Issues, Etc. Journal 2 #6 (Winter 1998): 20-21.
  3. In 1776 Captain John Barry (1745-1803) captured the first ship ever taken by a commissioned officer of the United States Navy. After the reorganization of the U.S. Navy in 1794, Barry became first senior officer with the rank of Commodore.
  4. The ELCA ecumenical proposals are found in: The Office of the Bishop (Department for Ecumenical Affairs) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Lutheran-Episcopal, Lutheran-Reformed, and Lutheran-Roman Catholic Ecumenical Proposals: Documents for Action by the 1997 Churchwide Assembly (hereafter Ecumenical Proposals) (Chicago: ELCA, 1997) [ISBN 6000069693; Augsburg Fortress #69-3092).
    President Barry's response to these proposals are found in the synod's newspaper for its church-workers, the Reporter. These responses include: A. L. Barry, "An Opportunity for Faithful Clarity: The Diverging Paths of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America" Reporter 23 #2 (February 1997): 2-3 in the "President's Newsletter"; also in David L. Mahsman, "Barry: ELCA actions move church away from historic Lutheranism" Reporter 23 #9 (September 1997): 1 & 4; and in A. L. Barry, "The ELCA's Ecumenical Decisions" Reporter 23 #11 (November 1997): 3-4 in the "Presidents' Newsletter"; and in the pamphlet, A. L. Barry, "What About . . . The Differences Between the ELCA and the LCMS" (St. Louis: LCMS Office of the President, 1998) [CPH # S14916].
    The ELCA counter-reply to Barry's response is found in the editorial: Edgar R. Trexler, "Lutherans on the Attack" The Lutheran 11 #2 (February 1998): 58. A number of ELCA member responses to both Trexler and Barry are found in the letter column: "Missouri Loves Company?" The Lutheran 11 #4 (April 1998): 56.
  5. "Germans: Reject Vatican statement," Reporter 24 #3 (March 1998): 9.
  6. For the articulation of this concept, I am indebted to the work of Peter Berger, who is arguably the most important American scholar in this field. In one place he admits that he sees himself irrevocably committed to a form of Christianity, "that of Protestant theological liberalism, in the line of Friedrich Schleiermacher" (Peter Berger, The Heretical Imperative: Contemporary Possibilities of Religious Affirmation [Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980], xii). It is therefore highly unlikely that Berger's arguments are biased toward a conservative view of religion. Since the late 1960s, Berger has been identified as one of the leading "neo-conservative" intellectuals (Robert Westbrook, "The Counter Intelligentsia: How Neoconservatism Lived and Died," Lingua Franca 6 #7 [November 1996]: 65). He has also served on the editorial board of the journal First Things from 1990 to 1996. His departure from that board in the wake of its "End of Democracy" controversy has confirmed my opinion that Berger is an independent thinker.
  7. Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969), 106.
  8. Berger reveals his traditionalist "neo-conservative" concern about the forces of secularization in A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969); and in The Heretical Imperative. The "progressive" Catholic Father Andrew Greeley, on the other hand, argues that "secularization" is a "myth," and therefore provides no cause for concern in his The Denominational Society: A Sociological Approach to Religion in America (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1972), 127-155.
    Two books which admit both the validity of the concept of "secularization" and warn about the improper use of the concept are: Owen Chadwick, The Secularization of the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century: The Gifford Lectures in the University of Edinburgh for 1973-4 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975); and Meredith B. McGuire, Religion: The Social Context (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1981).
  9. Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 107-108.
  10. Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 15-17, 127-153; cf. Berger, A Rumor of Angels, 34-38. Berger explains that his insights are derived from the sub-discipline of the "sociology of knowledge."
  11. Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 127-153.
  12. Peter Berger, "Toward a Critique of Modernity," in Facing Up to Modernity: Excursions in Society, Politics, and Religion (New York: Basic Books, 1977), 75-76; cf. Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 133-135.
  13. When churches become secularized, they gradually cease to be religious, as paradoxical as that may seem. I contend that this has already happened to other churches and is now happening also to the Missouri Synod. Two recent books which document the nearly complete secularization of mainline Protestantism are: Thomas C. Oden, Requiem: A Lament in Three Movements (New York: Free Press, 1995); and Thomas Reeves, The Empty Church: The Suicide of Liberal Christianity (New York: Free Press, 1996).
    To my knowledge the first theologian to warn about the secularization of the conservative Protestant churches was Os Guinness, former associate of Francis Schaeffer at L'Abri in Switzerland, and a student of Peter Berger. See the acknowledgements in: Os Guinness, The Gravedigger Files: Papers on the Subversion of the Modern Church (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1983), 7. I heard Guinness give a series of lectures titled "Modern Consciousness and Its Molding Power" at the University of California at Berkeley on July 15, 1978. These lectures were later incorporated into his 1983 book The Gravedigger Files: Papers on the Subversion of the Modern Church. In the Berkeley lectures and later book, Guinness explained Peter Berger's concepts of secularization, plausibility, pluralization, and individuation, which latter term Guinness calls "privatization." Guinness' applied these concepts to the conservative Evangelical churches. Guinness' book and Francis Schaeffer's concurrent warnings were ignored at the time. See Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1984). No one believed that the Evangelical churches could be affected by the same forces that transformed the Liberal Protestant denominations. But the fact is that success has brought an alteration of the fundamental values of the fundamentalists.
    By 1992, the Evangelical churches were in deep disarray. A number of well-known leaders began to listen to Guinness and his warnings about the secularization of Evangelicalism. See Guinness' latest works: Os Guinness & John Seel, eds., No God But God: Breaking with the Idols of Our Age (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992); Os Guinness, Dining with the Devil: The Megachurch Movement Flirts with Modernity (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993); Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don't Think and What to Do About It (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994). Guinness also has a fine book about the effect of secularization on American society in general, Os Guinness, The American Hour: A Time of Reckoning and the Once and Future Role of Faith (New York: Free Press, 1993). Many other voices have now joined Guinness, see Charles Colson, Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages (Minneapolis: Grason, 1989); Michael Scott Horton, ed., Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church? (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992); Charles Colson, The Body (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1992); David F. Wells, No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmanns, 1993); David F. Wells, God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams (Grand Rapids: Eerdmanns Books, 1994).
    At the instigation of Robert Preus, an association known as "The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals" was formed in 1994 to resist the forces of secularization in the conservative Protestant churches. Robert Preus' role in the founding of the "Alliance" may be seen on the dedication page of James Montgomery Boice and Benjamin Sasse, eds., Here We Stand!: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals (Grand Rapids: Baker 1996), 5. Many of the leaders of this alliance also contributed to the book: John H. Armstrong, ed., The Coming Evangelical Crisis: Current Challenges to the Authority of Scripture and the Gospel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996). It remains to be seen whether these warnings and this new organization will be too little, too late to save the conservative Protestant churches from secularization.
  14. See the fine article "Weber Thesis," in Hans J. Hillerbrand, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation (hereafter OER), 4 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 4:264-265.
  15. Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 111-112.
  16. See John F. Johnson, "Close Communion . . . One View" Forward (April 1996): 3; Richard P. Lessmann, "Closed Communion: A Pastor's Perspective" Forward (April 1996): 4; Ruth N. Koch, "The Editor's Corner" Forward (June/July 1996): 1; John F. Johnson, "Close Communion . . . A Response" Forward (June/July 1996): 3; Henry Koepchen, "Closed! Really Closed!" Forward (1997): 3; a "Housemaid," "What Would Jesus Have Us Do" Forward (February 1998): 2; Leland Stevens, "How Correct is the Position That Some Have the Right [Duty?] to Exercise Control in All Ecclesiastical Events?" Forward (February 1998): 7.
  17. The LCMS Lutheran Annual indicates that "Bishop & List Interests" is the publisher of the District Newsletter of the Florida-Georgia District of the LCMS. "Bishop & List Interests" is also the publisher of the newsletters Celebrate! and Forward. This means that the "paper pulpit" of the Florida-Georgia District is biased in favor of "open communion." This leads to a situation where the faithful are discouraged, the errorists are encouraged, and the majority are confused about such issues. I suspect that the general support for "open communion" in that District is much weaker than its supporters believe.
  18. The Committee, "Eucharistic Understanding and Practice: A Scriptural Study" Celebrate! (Lent 1998): 5.
  19. The ELCA's position is found in Ecumenical Proposals, 17, 21. The traditional Lutheran position is found in the Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration VII, 4-16, 33, 56-60, 63-67, 114, 123.
    After the Marburg Colloquy in 1529, the Lutherans, Bucer, and the Reformed south-German theologians kept debating the doctrine of the Eucharist, leading finally to the Wittenberg Concord in May 1536 (see Mark U. Edwards, Jr., Luther and the False Brethren [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1975], 127-155). The chief issues of debate in that seven-year period were the two Lutheran doctrines of the manducatio oralis and the manducatio indignorum. The Reformed initially refused to affirm these doctrines. In November 1530 Bucer developed a compromise formula "that the true body and true blood of Christ were truly present in the Supper and were offered with the words of the Lord and the Sacrament as food for the soul" (Edwards, 136). This compromise formula was rejected both by Zwingli and Luther. Luther rejected it because it did not confess the manducatio oralis and the manducatio indignorum, although he appreciated the progress that Bucer had made away from the Zwinglian position (Edwards, 136-137). When Bucer and the south-German theologians finally accepted the manducatio oralis and the manducatio indignorum at the Wittenberg Concord, Luther accepted them as fellow "Lutherans." Thus the two doctrines of the manducatio oralis and the manducatio indignorum are what ultimately distinguish Lutherans from all the Reformed churches in the doctrine of the Eucharist.
  20. Luther's explanation of the necessity of closed communion is found in his letter to Bucer in: Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 55 vols., ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton Oswald, and Helmut Lehmann (St. Louis and Philadelphia: Concordia Publishing House and Fortress Press, 1955-1986), 50:6-9 [WA, Br 6, 25-26]. A more complete explanation of the sixteenth century practice of closed communion is found in: Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, 4 vols., tr. Fred Kramer (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971-1986), 2:314-325.
  21. Logia 4 #2 (Easter 1995): 43-48.
  22. Logia 6 #3 (Trinity 1997): 67-69.
  23. Send $22.00 check made out to Logia to: LOGIA, PO Box 94, Cresbard, SD 57435; for one year subscription of four issues.
  24. Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (New York: Penguin Books, 1985), 114-124. A recent phenomenon among neo-Evangelicals is that many of their young people are searching for more sacred forms of worship, see Gary M. Burge, "Are Evangelicals Missing God at Church"? Christianity Today 41 #11 (October 6, 1977): 21-27.
  25. Postman, 124.
  26. Chemnitz, 2:269.
  27. See my essay, "Law and Due Process in the Kingdom of the Left and the Kingdom of the Right," in God and Caesar Revisited: Luther Academy Conference Papers, No. 1 (Spring 1995), ed. John Stephenson (Crestwood, MO: Luther Academy, 1995. See also my essay, "District Presidents and Their Council: Biblical and Confessional Limitations" in Luther Academy Conference Papers, No. 4, to be published.
  28. Blue Ribbon Committee Report (St. Louis: LCMS, 1997), 6 & 8.
  29. Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 107. On the secularization of ecclesiastical higher education, see James Tunstead Burtchaell, "The Decline and Fall of the Christian College," in two parts, First Things No. 12 (April 1991): 16-29 and No. 13 (May 1991): 30-38; Gilbert Meilaender, "Synodical Education: A Not-So-Modest Proposal," Concordia Journal 21 #1 (January 1995): 71-76; Joel Brondos, "As Go the Schools, So Goes the Synod," Logia 3 #3 (Trinity 1994): 81-82. My recommendations for the Concordia University System are found in "Whither Concordia?" Logia 6 #3 (Trinity 1997): 71-72.
  30. Blue Ribbon Committee Report, 9.

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