2019 LCMS Convention

The LCMS convention recently decided to reaffirm the 6 day creation! Here is the CMI article about it: Lutherans take stand on creation - creation.com.

Looking forward to hearing from @J.E.S, @CPArand, @Philosurfer, @JustAnotherLutheran, @Mlkluther, and @EvolvingLutheran and other LCMS about this. I also encourage you to look back at this: The Lutheran Option.

My thoughts are that this isn’t a change for the prior LCMS position. It is a bit entertaining how it is being misread. Even if the six days of Genesis are “natural” days, the earth could still be old. The length of the Genesis days does not allow us to compute the age of earth, even when taken as “natural days.” Period. So it is a mistake to read that statement as endorsing YEC.

See here for example: A Telling in Six Ordinary Days. Of course, there are many other ways to deal with this. Perhaps, most obviously, the earth exists before Day 1 in Genesis!

This covers a more important point:

The resolution also encourages pastors to study reports from the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations, particularly Creation in Biblical Perspective (1970), Together with All Creatures: Caring for God’s Living Earth (2010) and All Things Hold Together in Christ: The Intersection of Science and Christian Theology (2015).

Finally, the resolution instructs pastors to focus on teaching the parishioners they serve, especially youth, about these issues. It asks pastors to equip their people to give a respectful Christian witness about the biblical teaching regarding creation and the intersection of faith and science.

This component of the resolution, in contrast with the non-statement on 6 days, is a substantive affirmation in the LCMS position, for the better. This is where the real news is. What was the final text of the resolution? Does anyone have it?

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You are correct that the resolution isn’t really a change from the LCMS doctrinal position prior to the convention (as outlined in the Brief Statement), as far as I know. It is good to reaffirm important doctrines periodically, though.

I would also be curious to hear the thoughts of the other Lutherans around here!

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One thing that may be different (not sure), is the use of “natural” day. What does that mean? Of course, the resolution does not tell us. Using a new term here appears to help a lot with the politics of this document. Different people can read it in different ways, meaning different thing.

Clearly it was lobbied for by YECs and they read it as affirming YEC, but that is not what the statement entails.

Earth’s morning has long since passed and its day nearly spent. Its evening will be over when the bright Morning Star returns. Naturally. :slightly_smiling_face:

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The problem can be when someone in leadership interprets it one particular way and uses that as a litmus test on all those under them. It doesn’t matter if it can be read different ways if the person who signs the check/contract/policy determines that their reading is the only acceptable reading. That inconsistency can be a mine field for people who need to navigate these tricky areas.

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Lutherans, at their best, make space for faithful heterodox. 40% of the LCMS laity affirm evolution.

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I think “natural day” must be essentially a 24 hour day. Maybe they didn’t just say “24 hour day” because they didn’t want to sound exactly like fundamentalists, or probably they are allowing for the possibility that a day might not have been exactly 24 hours on what they suppose was creation week. But I think “natural day” rules out any room for a “day-age” hypothesis. In other words, I think the LCMS with this has doubled-down on supporting YEC. I was raised in a different branch of Lutheranism, not LCMS, so I’m not an insider with any specific knowledge.

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Even if they are 24 hour days this doesn’t force a YEC reading of Genesis @Intjer.

I can’t find the adopted text, but this document contains the proposed text. Just search Resolution 5-09 and it will jump to it. https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=KuJNmMBOaTz54nqcyjk0Hbx1eVuOXTmt

I think @Jordan makes a valid point here, because it essentially comes down to the congregational level and how the pastor holding the Office of the Public Ministry sees it. I read one pastor’s comment in our local Lutheran publication that said this was important to battle the “godless” teaching of evolution. Elsewhere I’ve seen pastors refer to Evolution as “damnable”, “heretical”, “ungodly”, “corrosive” and the like. So regardless of the apparent wiggle room created by the word “natural”, it’s really how those in the Office understand it and plan to teach it.

It’s might be worthwhile to point out that the original Brief Statement was crafted not to explain our faith to the world, but specifically to other Lutheran bodies considering fellowship with us.

@swamidass is correct that there is essentially nothing new here. My opinion was that it was a foregone conclusion and doesn’t move the needle. However, I think the Brief Statement (1932) and A Statement (1973) have been used as litmus tests to essentially quash any discussion about the issue. That is my primary concern, especially when it comes to our synod’s educational institutions.

However, on a positive note, I did get to finally share my own belief in evolution with my pastor and we’ve begun a very healthy mutually respectful dialog that I hope will continue.

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Here is the key text:

Resolved, That pastors be encouraged to study and discuss within their pastoral conferences (district and circuit) the Commission on Theology and Church Relations reports: Creation in Biblical Perspective (1970), Together with All Creatures: Caring for God’s Living Earth (2010), and All Things Hold Together in Christ: The Intersection of Science and Christian Theology (2015); and be it further

Resolved, That pastors care for and instruct their people by addressing issues related to the intersection of faith and science by leading thoughtful discussions that:

  • help them remain faithful to our confession as set forth in the Scriptures, exhibited in our Confessions, and affirmed in the Synod’s publicly stated positions; and

  • address accurately and honestly the assumptions, theories, and findings of scientists along with the challenges that they raise for Christian thought;

and be it finally

Resolved, That pastors encourage and equip their people to look for and engage in respectful and thoughtful conversations that give a Christian witness.

This part, as I understand it, is new. At least one of those encouraged documents is written by our friend @CPArand. The bolded parts of the statement, in particular, I think they are an important step for the LCMS, a step away from fundamentalism and back towards their roots.

True. But many will read this as “code” for a “literal reading” of Genesis and thereby an affirmation and ringing endorsement of “a plain and natural reading of the Biblical text” in general.

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Which, once again, does not entail YEC. The GAE follows from a Chicago Statements reading of Genesis.

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Agreed. But many will think it does and be very satisfied. (Notice that I put various words in quotation marks in my post. Perception is not necessarily actuality.)

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Well that’s nice to see!

That would fit my own limited* experience with the LCMS.

*but not limited enough. :-/

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I’m still in the process of digesting and sorting out what this means. I suspect we will see something similar at our LCC Convention in 2021. The joke is - When the LCMS sneezes Lutheran Church Canada catches a cold.

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How is this going?

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Thanks for asking! We had a couple good exchanges the first week as I’d mentioned, but our intention for a face to face was sidelined temporarily due to scheduling. Now that summer has ended and we’re back to a normal Sunday routine with people returning to bible study and kids are back in school I fully anticipate we’ll continue it soon. My son just began his first week of confirmation classes. It’s bound to come up when they get to the first part of the creed. The new update to the Explanation to the Small Catechism directly addresses EC/TE this way:

“Some theistic evolutionists and evolutionary creationists may hold to a view of Scripture as God’s Word but wrongly assume that, in light of current scientific claims, Genesis 1-3 should not be read as a reliable historical account of creation. Thus they will affirm the God is creator, but see evolution as the means by which God made the world as we know it. This undermines and denies other truths in Scripture that depend on the special creation of God.”

I will definitely keep you updated on any interesting updates!

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There is an important opportunity. I am not TE or EC. I am a Christian that affirms evolutionary science (CAES), and I’m making space for Lutherans to read scripture from a historical-grammatical hermeneutic.

The catechism addresses TE and EC, but it doesn’t address CAES. There may be some better ways forward for them.

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Thanks for the update. I would also be interested in what ideas or experiences you would feel safe to share. These issues made it so I couldn’t join an LCMS church a few years ago. I really respect it that someone in your situation is willing to have discussions with people. My impression is that simply asking questions could involve risk.

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Here’s a question. Do you think that for the average outsider looking in the terms (TE/EC/CAES) are rather interchangeable? I could see someone thinking it’s splitting hairs and that it’s essentially all the same animal. What’s been your experience?

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