In 1969, the incumbent president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) was voted out of office by a conservative faction that disdained the synod’s ecumenical relations with more moderate Lutheran bodies and the teaching of the historical-critical method of Biblical interpretation rather than a literalistic, infallibility doctrine. In response, many LCMS moderates started Seminex (seminary in exile) and eventually departed the LCMS altogether. The already conservative Lutheran church body effectively purged its moderates and liberals and moved further to the right.
It appears the Missouri Synod needs a ritual cleansing every generation or so to ensure its ideological purity according to the news this week that the already conservative three term incumbent president has been ousted by an even more conservative faction. A blog that calls itself brothers of John the Steadfast trumpeted the uprising. Both the incumbent (Kieschnick)and the challenger (Harrison) appealed to the base by strident bashing of the recent gay-friendly policies of the ELCA, the great bogeyman for many in the LCMS. The delegates to the convention voted overwhelmingly for two resolutions critical of the ELCA, and each of the two candidates attempted to ride the anti-ELCA sentiment to victory. In the end, the delegates apparently believed the challenger hated the ELCA more than the incumbent.
Here is a sampling of blogosphere commentary.
Earlier, as the momentum toward an insurrection mounted, the online magazine named Christianity Today suggested “Tea Party Insurgence Ripples Through Missouri Synod Election.”
Magdalene’s Egg suggests:
First, let’s be clear that this election was a sweep of massive proportions. Earlier this month, candidates were nominated, and Harrison’s nominations were nearly double Kieschnick’s, 1332 to 755. At the actual assembly, Harrison won 54% of the vote, and more than that, he won on the first ballot. This signals a decisive rejection of Kieschnick.
Otagosh refers to a “fawning interview” with the newly elected president:
It is the oozing self-deprecating humility, however, that is the most notable feature of the first Harrison interview. Again, no tribute to his predecessor was offered; the Harrison lobby would probably sooner choke. (He did however manage a one sentence reference to Kieschnick in his address to conference following his election.)
Progressive Involvement says:
Harrison is a staunch conservative, of course, as is Kieschnick. As is ever the case, some grumbled that Kieschnick wasn’t quite conservative enough. Plus, while both of them bashed the ELCA, Harrison seemed to do so with particular vigor.