Update: Benke Case Reveals Simmering Tension

May 21, 2003

Source: Christianity Today


On May 21, 2003 Christianity Today reported that "An appeals panel of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) has overturned the suspension of pastor David Benke for praying at an interfaith September 11 memorial event at Yankee Stadium. Despite the conclusion of the case, tensions run high in the 2.6 million-member denomination. Synod leaders expect a showdown at next year's synod conference... Both sides say the Benke case has dredged up long-simmering divisions in the denomination. These include the interpretation of Scripture and the church's involvement with other denominations and non-Christians. These same tensions came to a head in 1974 when the president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, faced charges of malfeasance of duties and advocating false doctrine. In reaction, the majority of the school's students and faculty split from the LCMS to form the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. This group merged in 1988 with the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church of America to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America."