The Fabricated Luther

In Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto’s helpful 1993 book The Fabricated Luther he shows how it takes a misreading of history to lay Hitler and Nazism at the feet of Luther. But the Luther fabricated by William Shirer in his 1960 book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich didn’t do as much damage as the Luther fabricated by today’s LCMS.

The October 25, 2017 Reporter’s lead story is COP Reviews Koinonia Project outcomes, hears president’s report shows the effects of the Luther we have fabricated.

According to Harrison’s report, in recent years we have averaged 240 candidates for the pastoral office from our two seminaries. Now despite the path to the ministry for simpletons (S[i]MP), there are only 90. Whence cometh this less than halving? It cometh from the Lord and it is marvelous in our eyes. We pray each week for the Lord to cast workers into the harvest and we get less.

This in part is due to the Luther we fabricated. Not a robust, confessing not counting the costs nor the numbers Luther, but an anemic, effeminate voiced, carefully counting numbers and trying whatever seems to work Luther.

What did Siemon-Netto identify as the key issue that the Lutheran church must confront head-on or be swept away? Read for yourself. Here are Dr. Siemon-Netto’s prescient words that evidently fell on deaf ears, seared consciences, and blinkered eyes almost 25 years ago: “This, then, is the Christian reality in the world, a reality the Zeitgeist is incapable of recognizing. Luther’s church – in Europe as well as in many parts of the United States – stands at a crossroads: It can go on cooking the two realms into each other; it can persist in its foolish endeavor to prostitute itself to the spirit of the time [Think contemporary worship and pastors who ignore the fornicators living together.]. But it must realize that in so doing it commits the anti-Lutheran and anti-Christian transgression of selling indulgences in the futile effort to stop its membership from dwindling. What are the indulgences of the twentieth century? They are ecclesiastical nods to wanton violations of God’s order of creation. If that is the road the church will continue to travel, it will inevitably miss its kairos [season]. Why? Because it beds with a spirit that is the antithesis of the Holy Spirit, the giver of life and creator of faith” (The Fabricated Luther, 176-7).

I think we have so slept. What would Luther say to all the LGBT issues? To all the “confessional pastors” who think sinful fornicating (AKA living together) is a waypoint on the way to holy wedlock? To the women pastors, bishops, leaders, and now warriors? What would Luther say to Lutheran professors who confront Luther’s disconnect with the spirit of our times in regard to the Order of Creation with: I wonder what Luther would have said if he had lived under a queen (Jastram, N., “Man as Male and Female: Created in the Image of God,” Concordia Theological Quarterly, Vol. 68:1, January 2004, p75). Because men like him haven’t struggled against these issues but gave in, his grandchildren will find out what it means to live under a “queen”. And if you think Mary could be bloody queen in 16th century Renaissance England, watch out for “queen” Gary or Larry or Harry in our benighted 21st. The extreme sentimentality that is a mark of the effeminacy of the transgendered will be paired with extreme brutality as it often is.

We have fabricated a Luther than would tolerate and even encourage those who believe in open Communion communing with those who believe in closed Communion. In the Reporter story mentioned above the president of the Minnesota South District says of the Koinonia Project his district “embraced” in 2015, “Among the outcomes was the discovery that there was more theological unity than anyone anticipated. ‘The single most varied practice in the district is admission to the Lord’s Supper,’ said Nadasdy.”Oh, Is that all?

This “difference” goes right to the core of theology. In the January 2003 “Kiss and Make Up” conferences hosted by Synod and Districts to heal the suppurating wound that is still the 2001 Yankee Stadium Prayer Service, the Synod reconciler asked how could some pastors view the joint service as a furtherance of the Gospel and others view it as a denial. Duh? Because we have a different Gospel as shown by our differing doctrines on the Lord’s Supper which is the Gospel.

We have fabricated a Luther who would accept the open Communion statement of Bethany Lutheran Church of Alexandria, VA and Faith Lutheran Church of Chattanooga, TN as merely a difference in practice not doctrine. The former’s I found when a member from their sought the Lord’s Supper from me on Easter. The latter I found when one of my sheep went to that fold in search of the Body and Blood. Bethany, Alexandria, VA said in their April 9, 2017 Palm Sunday bulletin. “The Scriptures teach that in the Holy Communion Christ’s body and blood are given to us for the forgiveness of sins, strength for our faith, and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. All who have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection and who trust that these gifts are ‘given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins’ are invited to receive the sacrament.”

Here’s how First Lutheran of Chattanooga, TN “poisons” the well for any truly confessional Communicant: “As Lutherans we believe that the body and blood of Christ are truly present together with the bread and wine as we receive the Sacrament. Jesus told us this in his words: ‘Take, eat, this is my body…this is my blood.’ We believe and teach that in this Sacrament Christ offers us his real presence for the forgiveness of all our sins. If you are a baptized Christian and you share this faith, we invite you to participate at the Lord’s Table with us.” (Did you pick up the receptionism and Calvinism in this brief confession?)

Not only have we fabricated a Luther who is soft on confessing the truth and confronting sin, but one who is weak on the doctrine of creation. Concordia Seminary joined with Concordia Nebraska to do violence to the Word of God in the name of science in Concordia Journal Summer 2017 issue. (Not very original, huh?). In a travesty of an article by John Jurchen, an associate professor at Concordia Nebraska, titled “The Age of the Earth and Confessional Lutheranism” he says: “…individual struggling to reconcile faith in the God of Genesis with what is read in literature or heard in media, six, twenty-four-hour days is not a requirement” (Concordia Journal, Summer 2017). Compare this with Luther: “But if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are” (What Luther Says, 4935). Instead Jurchen gives literature and media more honor than the Holy Spirit!

We have fabricated a Luther who virtually none but the most liberal Lutheran pastor prior to 1960 would recognize. A Luther who is uncertain or wavering about the Order of Creation, creation itself, the sin of fornication, and participating in the doctrinal sins of others. No, wonder students are staying away from our seminaries in droves. And I’m not helping. A month ago, a college student asked me what seminary he should attend, and I was dumbstruck. I recovered enough to say he should check out both. I wanted to say ‘neither’. A confessional pastor could possibly come from either of our seminaries, but, as they now are, neither would or could fabricate one.


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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