Friday, February 4, 2011

That New James Burkee Book.

It seems like everyone in the Lutheran blogsphere is reading that James Burkee book about the great Lutheran civil war. Has anyone read it? Reviews?

I was over at Lutheran Forum again and Robert Benne was commenting on how his side conducted itself in the ELCA civil war compared to the LCMS conservatives back in the 60s and 70s. He was lamenting how nasty everything got in Missouri. I would agree that much of what went on then was highly regretable- most notably the association between many of the conservatives and Herman Otten (whom I consider to be utterly reptilian!).

Nevertheless, on the other hand, not playing for keeps didn't really work for Benne and his group- i.e. they lost. In ecclesiastical warfare, the number one rule is that you must realize that you are playing a zero sum game. There is no peaceful co-existence. Either one side will win and determine everything or the other. Benne's group wanted too little and didn't fight hard enough. They just wanted to status quo. They didn't get that they and the other side could never peacefully co-exist. That was pure illusion.


  1. The thought of LCMS in the hands of higher critics is just too much to bear. I am not usually and advocate of an ends justifies the means ethic but in this case the stakes were just too high.

  2. The problem with Benne and company's hopes for Lutheranism is that the did not see, or care much, about the problems in the ELCA until the Aug. 2009 homosexuality decisions.

    Why were they not leaving when the ELCA hopped into bed with the Episcopalians, then the Reformed, including the UCC, and then the Methodists?

    The problem with Benne's NALC hopes is that fundamentally the theology of this "reforming" movements and "new church" is still just plain old fashioned liberal Lutheranism.

    As for the Burkee is a non-event and merely a flash in the pan, sound and fury signifying nothing.

    What else would you expect from a guy who did his doctorate with Martin Marty who has been grinding his axe against The LCMS for decades and was/is deeply complicit in the deconstruction of Lutheranism within the ELCA?

  3. "utterly reptilian"


    Has there been a book/document published with evidence that would substantiate such strong language against this man? I will admit I do not know much about the author of CN (nor do I read CN very much - I have), other than that he is not liked by many.


  4. Nathan- The documented evidence is reading the Christian News and his website (though it seems mainly non-functional as of late).

    If all that wasn't bad enough, he is a Holocaust denier.

    So, I guess, I would argue that Holocaust denier=reptilian.

    That would be my basis.

  5. So, I guess, I would argue that Holocaust denier=reptilian.

    and you would be right

  6. Read it... with Adams, Danker, Marquart, Zimmermann, and Tietjen... still waiting for a real survey of what happened in Missouri. Burkee frames Missouri's war within the culture war of the time (Nixon, emerging right in response to the 60s). It is less than convincing. I lived through it and knew many of the characters and while some of them are right on, others seem very different than I remembered them. In the end a tendency to broad brush and not enough documentation mean this is not the definitive work folks were waiting for...

  7. I know this is a while later, but thought you might be interested to know that a couple reviews of the Burkee book will be up on the Logia site soon (Blogia).

    And yes, I am being a self-promoter, mine will be one of them.

    So if you are still interested in more analysis, check it out.


  8. "There is no peaceful co-existence." Please explain how people for and against gay marriage cannot co-exist within the current ELCA. No congregation is required to accept gay clergy, or required to bless gay marriage. It seems both pro- and anti- gay folks can peacefully co-exist in the current arrangement.