Monday, May 3, 2010

Katie Bar the Door!

Jon Pahl, Professor of the History of Christianity at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philedelphia , pulls no punches in his criticism of Lutheran CORE. In an article for the Journal of Lutheran Ethics, he writes:

Lutheran CORE claims to represent Lutheran orthodoxy, fact abandons historic Lutheranism at crucial turns in favor of an American civil religion. This accretion of an American imprint on CORE's version of Lutheranism CORE leaders have repeatedly accused faithful ELCA leaders of having themselves sold out to "America." Even more, the leaders of Lutheran CORE, because they assert a self-righteous American moralism about sex and marriage as a litmus test of ecclesiastical purity, confuse law and gospel, and imperil the clear truth of salvation by grace through faith that is the actual core of historical and confessional Lutheran teaching. When teaching about sex replaces teaching about salvation as a defining mark of the church, something has clearly gone severely awry.

The full article (about 10 pages in length, not counting footnotes) can, and should, be read here.


  1. Wow! What an article. Thanks for sharing the link.

  2. I wouldn't expect any less from Prof. Pahl. Had the joy of him lecturing when he taught at Valparaiso. Amazing guy who means what he says and says what he means. Great link!

  3. What I like about Prof. Pahl's article is that he shows what the revisionists in the ELCA really think about the traditionalists! Hopefully it will help them (the traditionalists) see that there isn't a place for them in the ELCA anymore.

  4. Hi, Katie.

    I chuckled when I saw your name, not because your name is intrinsically funny, but because of the title I gave this post.

    What I like about Dr. Pahl's article is that he, as a scholar with sound credentials, offers substantive criticism of some of CORE's underlying theological assumptions.

    What I dislike about Dr. Pahl's article is is his combative tone. I will admit that I find it amusing, but I am also sure that those he criticizes will take offense. I read something somewhere about gentle words turning away wrath....

    At any rate, the responses I have seen to Dr. Pahl have mostly been reactions to his tone. I have yet to see a reply that actually engages the serious issues he raises. I hope to see such a response soon.

  5. Did you see the Shellfish blog? They cited the piece, and Pahl thanked them for doing so and then said that all women who supported Lutheran CORE were nothing by "consorts" of the white males who run it. Sounds like Prof Pahl has some white male privilege bigotry control issues of his own.

    As for a serious response, I agree that the tone is too combative. Such screeds rarely seem invitations to dialog.

    Blessings TS

  6. Hi Tony!

    I had seen shellfish. And you and I agree about this (if nothing else): his tone works against the substance of his criticisms.

    I enjoyed Kelly's May 19 post on the subject at her "Progressively Lutheran" blog.

    God bless.


  7. I have to quote an anonymous poster over at the Shellfish blog:

    "One also has to wonder what kind of arrogance it takes for a privileged white male like Dr. Pahl to dismiss all of the women, Africans, Hispanics, and Africa Americans who disagree with him as nothing more than 'consorts" of the White Male."

    That really says it all for me. What Dr. Pahl wrote is a screed, a rant - an ad hominem attack that I am not interested in dignifying with debate. Dialogue is about listening to one another and trying to understand what leads a person to think as they do, not smearing one another with offensive labels. If we cannot observe the eighth commandment (oops,there's one of those laws!) in our dealings with one another, what business do any of us have in claiming the high road of Lutheranism?

    I hope Dr. Pahl keeps writing and defending his position. Many of my friends are still in the ELCA, struggling with what direction to go. Dr. Pahl's attacks on traditionalists who love their church, not to mention those who so publicly agree with him, will serve to show them that they just don't belong there anymore.

  8. Katie, the Eighth Commandment goes broken by many on both sides of this debate. Your little shot about "one of those laws" might qualify.

    You may dismiss Dr. Pahl's article as a "screed, a rant-an ad hominem attack" (I would grant you one of the three) but that does not alter the fact that beneath his combative tone he levels some serious criticisms which so far go unaddressed.

  9. Serious criticisms? Really? His words sound more like an academic form of school yard taunts. His writing is not what I would expect from a scholarly article from a seminary professor. And I am not interested in wasting my time arguing about whether CORE is made up of angry white men and their "consorts," civil religionists, and, don't forget this one, "homophobes."

    Shame on the ELCA for publishing the article, and shame on those of you who revel in characterizing those who disagree with you in such a way. I see no way that this article could be an invitation to serious dialogue, but then I don't really believe that was the intent. Do you, really?