What do Seminex, Kloha, and ELDONA have in common?

The answer to this query comes from me, but it is based on an article written by the Reverend Doctor David Scaer. It is good to know not everyone is asleep at the switch at the seminaries, not everyone is willing to set silently by as the theology of Seminex walks the halls of conservative Lutheranism again unmolested.

The article is titled “Justification: Set Up Where It Ought Not to Be” and is found in the Concordia Theological Quarterly, Vol. 80, Number 3-4, July/October 2016, pp. 269-285. To be clear the conclusions made here are mine not his. Dr. Scaer doesn’t mention either Kloha or ELDONA by name, but in my opinion what he says applies to them.

First a brief introduction to the players: Seminex was formed by the professors and students who walked out of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in 1974 to form Seminary-In-Exile, Seminex. Kloha taught at Concordia Seminary up until 2016. His area of expertise is textual criticism which establishes the Biblical text by comparing various manuscripts. Historically, it has not been considered part of liberal Higher Criticism, and has been used by confessional Lutherans. Kloha says that the Biblical text is fluid and ever changing (He said it an article that students would one day have a Greek New Testament on a Smartphone that would be updating daily). His standard for the authenticity of a Bible text is whether or not you can preach Christ from it. ELDONA is the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America. It is a group of confessional pastors who formed in 2004. Last year they touched the Third Rail of Confessional Lutheranism, Objective Justification, and then denied it.

So, what do all three have in common? They are Gospel Reductionists. Whether or not something happened objectively in history is beside the point. As long as it can work faith in the heart, it is of God. This is akin to the Seminex crowd that said it didn’t matter if Jonah was swallowed by a whale, Gospel truth could be derived from myth as well as history.

Justifying faith or being able to preach Christ is assigned the role that in theology belongs to the resurrection (274). Objective events are given up, the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross and the subsequent resurrection where God declares it a done deal, in favor of a subjective event going on in the heart of the hearer or the preacher. Here I quote directly Dr. Scaer: “Both views, the one that holds to justification by faith apart from what can be known historically of Jesus [the Seminex view] and the other, that God justifies believers only after or because they come to faith, attribute to faith the defining role [ELDONA’s view of justification]. As diverse as these views are, they locate the determinative theological moment in the believer’s faith [Kloha’s view of deciding what is and is not an authoritative text], in which the entire theological reality is encapsulated and gives believers certainty” (276).

Run like Seminex Part II is at the gates from any error that puts the certainty of your salvation, justification, or the Bible in your subjective judgment or believing. Keep these where where the Creeds do, in historical events. Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate.” He rose “according to the Scriptures.” The Holy Spirit “spake by the prophets.” Ever since the days of the Enlightenment, Descartes, and into Lutheranism by Schleiermacher, the subjective has been given pride of place over the objective. Seminex, Kloha, and ELDONA have fallen into this same pit, and repenting not thinking is the only way out.

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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