Consider this quotation I found in Christian News (which I don’t generally read through, so I’m glad this caught my eye) from Rev. Daniel Preus about the “A Statement” or “Statement of the 44,” which was issued in the LCMS of 1945:
Completely apart from the issues involved, the fact that a statement of faith and conviction which had been made and mailed to all LCMS clergy and was contrary to official church doctrine and practice was simply withdrawn from discussion without retraction was a very bright green light to those who wished to see Missouri embrace a more open fellowship practice. But the implications do not end there. When people were permitted to publish a position statement contrary to our doctrine, and were not disciplined or required to retract, it became apparent that people would be able to publish or set forth other statements contrary to our doctrine. To many who believed Missouri too rigid, the 44 became a heroic example of a new permissiveness which would slowly invade the synod and lead eventually to the deplorable positions held by the St. Louis Seminary faculty majority in the early 1970s…. The fact remains that these men were able to flaunt the doctrinal practice of the church body to which they belonged with no significant consequences…
(Quoted from the 1999 paper The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod: Holiday from History.)
This is possibly an eye-opening revelation of the thought process behind the suspension of Pastor Rolf Preus from the ELS. It could be that the decision was based upon the notion that Preus’ paper “Clarifying the Issues” was equivalent to the “Statement of the 44.”
Let’s consider the merit of that notion. Do you think that the quote from Daniel Preus above speaks to the suspension of his brother, Rolf Preus? I don’t, and I’ll give you a reason right off the bat. First, a few supporting observations.
- According to the Daniel Preus quote, the Statement of the 44 was aimed against a certain conservative rigidity of the synod, particularly on the doctrine of fellowship.
- The paper “Clarifying the Issues” is not about fellowship, but about the doctrine of the ministry.
- Daniel Preus points out that the LCMS president in 1945 failed to demand a full retraction of “A Statement.”
- In 2006, the ELS president would accept nothing short of a full retraction of “Clarifying the Issues.”
- Since the issue advanced in the Statement of the 44 was lax fellowship, the LCMS president’s failure to put that very same doctrine into practice was a virtual capitulation to “A Statement.”
- However, “Clarifying the Issues,” by contrast, did not advocate laxity of any kind, but instead noted an unacceptable doctrinal laxity on the part of a synodical doctrinal statement.
- Conclusion from the foregoing
- In several ways, the positions in 2006 were reversed from the positions of 1945. The difference is that Pastor Preus did not soften his position as the LCMS president had done.
- Another conclusion from the foregoing
- Furthermore, a demand from the president to retract “Clarifying the Issues” was not needed in 2006 to avoid a capitulation to its position (as happened it 1945), because it did not advocate a permissive doctrine of fellowship. It could have remained on the table as raising some serious issues for public consideration, requiring close scrutiny and defense.
I wasn’t around in 1945. My grandfathers were still on their way back from the war. So maybe I don’t know what I’m writing about. If that’s the case, then please educate me.