Friday, June 11, 2010

ELS views of a segment of Missouri's history-a first hand perspective

Recently I have posted several items on this blog re Missouri Synod history.  The ELS owes its formation to the support of Missouri Synod Lutherans.  Even though the ELS is not in fellowship with Missouri (I personally think that this is wrong and hope that the ELS would reverse its position) there are many ties with Missouri.  These ties with Missouri are in decline because of the passage of time, and death.

Walther's views on slavery were a shock to many of us in the ELS because we didn't know that the old man was so wrong about such a basic issue. I had always heard about Walther's good side and never anything about his bad side.

The link to a recent discussion of the Tietjen-Preus era brought a number of responses.   The writer of that dissertation pointed out that the ELS suspending relations with Missouri was due to the influence of Jack and Robert Preus.

On another blog I made some observations about how painful it was for my father and my uncle that Jack left the ELS for Missouri.  The pain was personal, of course, because my father and my uncle were very close personal friends of Jack and Robert.  The greater pain was, I believe, that Jack and Robert were so persuasive to the ELS that the Missouri Synod had gone the wrong way, theologically speaking, and that the ELS should suspend relations.   The ELS did so in 1955.

In the interests of objectivity, I also published a link to a 1999 analysis of the events. The author of this essay emphasized that the Walkout was based on doctrinal differences.  The author of the dissertation emphasized the personalities of some of the principals.  He  particularly had unkind things to say about the Preus brothers.

Back to the ELS. The leaders of the ELS at the time of the Missouri-ELS split are gone to their graves.  My father died in 2004.   The young men from the ELS who knew Jack from the classroom are now in their declining years.  What might be of interest to the readers of this blog is the observation of an old man who was once a seminarian and studied under Jack.   His name will be kept confidential.

"I haven't had a chance to read about the Walther issue but I will surely do so since I am vitally interested.  I can't imagine that I'd be agreeing with C.F.W's views on slavery judging by your comment.  I thought your comments on the Preus brothers matter were poignant and interesting.  Of course in my pre-the studies I had Jack as my Greek prof for a year.  Church Politican, I concluded after that time.  I wrote him some several years after he made a rather impassioned plea on the synod flood holding forth at some length on why the ELS should break or suspend fellowship with the LC-MS. Whether his position at that convention was for suspension of fellowship or breaking fellowship entirely I don't remember - tho perhaps my letter or his reply might reveal which & I'd have to spend hours perhaps finding that file.  In any case, the gist of my letter to JAO was this: Why have you joined the LC-MS in the light of your former position. I referred at that point my letter to his speech at the convention. His reply - and I choke at memory of his words - was to this effect: "There must be some misunderstanding on this.  I never spoke at that convention on behalf of the position taken by some that the ELS should suspend/break relations with the Missouri Synod."  Enough said.

"That perhaps was the starting point for me in taking the position eventually that theologians/pastors/professors may be trustworthy but you'd better be very careful.  They may be users. It was a shocking and disappointing experience."

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