He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart— Proverbs 11:29 (KJV)


Luther Rose ML 125pxIt never occurred to me that believing in evolution could exclude you from a mainstream Protestant church, until I read a thought-provoking exchange about the potential of ELCA members moving to LCMS churches.

The post was on Cyberbrethren, which is a fantastic blog for all things LCMS.  Pastor Paul T McCain, who is the Publisher and the Executive Director of the Editorial Department at Concordia Publishing House.  His site, like Concordia Publishing House, covers various aspects of historic Lutheranism.  It’s well worth a read.

The other day I read several posts, nodding my head to each, then ran across the comments in ‘How the ELCA Left the Great Tradition‘.  (Readers may recall that Churchmouse Campanologist also covered Dr Benne’s analysis here.)  In the comments readers debate whether ELCA members will join the LCMS.  One in particular caught my eye:

September 15th, 2009 at 18:05 | #13

[CJF writes]

Pastor McCain:

I am currently in ELCA and would like to leave given what occurred at the CWA [Churchwide Assembly]. I am seriously considering the LCMS but I have some questions…

In order to become a member of the LCMS,

Do I have to believe that God created the world in six 24 hour days?

Do I have to completely reject the theory of evolution?

Do I have to believe that the earth is 10,000 years old?

If I join an LCMS church, Will my mother and father who choose to remain in the ELCA, yet come from an LCMS background, and believe that the body and blood of Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, be able to take communion at my LCMS congregation? Does the answer change if my father is a freemason?

If the answer to all the above is NO then, respectfully, LCMS is not an option.

McCain response: In order to become a member of The LCMS you need first to visit with a LCMS pastor who has the responsibility for such matters. He will be most concerned to assure himself that you are committed to the six chief parts of Luther’s Small Catechism, and are sincerely committed to them. As for the details in your note I hesitate to give yes/no answers because the questions you ask deserve conversation, not “litmus test treatment.” And I know of no good pastor in our Synod who would want you to “grill” them on these points without good conversation. My encouragement is seek out an LCMS congregation and go speak to the pastor. If you want to e-mail me privately … I can let you know what LCMS congregation is close to you.

One of the tenets of the LCMS is the belief in Scriptural inerrancy.  Upon first reading, I thought the first three questions were somewhat irreverent.  But then, I always understood Biblical inerrancy to pertain to the eternal truth of God’s word.  I didn’t equate it with ‘literal interpretation’.  It’s interesting to read that it involves discussion with a pastor.  I would like to think that it would be to assess whether one believes, first and foremost, that God created the world, which may or may not have been created in six 24-hour days.

I went to a Catholic school from third grade (age eight) through university.  We were always taught theistic evolution: God created the Earth, but it evolved over time and took longer than a week. (Intelligent Design was way after my time.)  I knew very few people who believed the six-day Creation story.  My parents always advised me not to ridicule them.  Not that I would have.  My parents as well as the nuns at school told the story of the Scopes Monkey Trial, the stage and film version of which is Inherit the Wind

Then, I read that Creation, the new British film about Darwin, won’t be playing in the US because it could not find a distributor.  That left me gobsmacked.  Am I concerned whether Darwin wrestled with his faith?  No.  Did I care what Jonas Salk‘s religious convictions were?  No, I never gave them a thought until I read the link for this post.  I’m just glad he invented the polio vaccine.  Similarly, I find the Origin of the Species fascinating.  Why couldn’t evolution be God-given?  Well, I don’t want to harp on about it, but I will never stop believing that God gave us our beautiful universe which He perfected over time.   

Now I see that back in February (2009), Gallup took a poll of Americans to gauge their belief in evolution.  Thirty years after I finished university, the numbers look worse than ever.  If I find a comparison over time, I’ll post one.  The Telegraph (UK) published the latest figures:

… only 39% of Americans say they believe in the evolutionary theory he outlined in On the Origin of Species, contradicting the biblical creation story in the Book of Genesis. A quarter say they don’t believe  it and the other 36 per cent were unsure or did not have an opinion…

For regular church-goers, belief in evolution slips to just 24 per cent. The figure rises consistently across education levels – from 21 per cent of those who did not study past high school to 74 per cent of people with postgraduate degrees.

Knock me down with a feather.  Seriously.

I hope that I have not offended any members of the LCMS, Pastor McCain in particular, with this post.  That was not the intention.  I simply wonder if an LCMS member has the option to believe in evolution.

I also hope that Pastor McCain would allow me the opportunity to respectfully share LCMS theology with you, particularly about the importance of the Cross, fasting and more.  Traditional Churchmouse Campanologist readers would find Cyberbrethren posts informative and useful in their spiritual journeys.  I do.