Friday, 5 October 2007
I came across Paul McCain's name the other day in Discovering the Plain Truth by Nichols and Mather, a sympathetic account of WCG's "reformation" written back in 1998 by two pastors of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. It was, overall, a fair presentation, and I was struck by the authors' concern, expressed directly to the Pasadena cabal of Tkach, Albrecht and Feazell, about the church's continuing hierarchical ("episcopal") structure. They were fobbed off with wishy-washy assurances that things were under review. Nearly a decade later, as far as I can tell, there hasn't been any substantive change, or have I missed the announcement about the church's board now being elected rather than appointed?
Paul McCain, currently a high ranking Missouri Synod apparatchik at that body's publishing house, was apparently instrumental in setting up a meeting between Tkach and then LCMS president Al Barry. Joe and co. initially got along famously with the lads from St. Louis, though I suspect the relationship is a bit chillier these days.
I mention McCain because he's one of those bloggers I love to hate. Paul regularly takes sideswipes at Anglicans, Catholics, ELCA Lutherans, Calvinists... anyone, I suspect, who isn't infected with that peculiar brand of near-fundamentalist Lutheranism that is endemic to the Missouri and Wisconsin Synods. LCMS folk may object to the fundamentalist label, but it's undeniable that they were a big factor in the rise of creationism in the US (along with the Seventh-day Adventists.) Last time I checked, Concordia Publishing House was still promoting the 1950s book The Flood by Alfred Rehwinkel (which I had on my shelf as a pre-WCG teenager) which attempts to prove that the geological record can be accounted for by Noah's flood (about as logical as classifying Evan Almighty as a documentary.)
On his blog McCain is now promoting a new website, created by Concordia, that takes kitsch to a new level. From the faux-1930s artwork on the main page, reminiscent of political posters in Nazi Germany, to the fawning content, it has to be an embarrassment to any thinking American Lutheran - or any of us in other parts of the world with a Lutheran history or background. No acknowledgment here of Luther's anti-Jewish rhetoric, or the invective directed against the peasant revolt. Luther was a complex figure, and this kind of selective treatment is little more than cheap sectarian apologetics.
The nearest thing I can think of are those hagiographies of Herbert W. Armstrong produced by groups like PCG. Which just goes to prove that cultic thinking can be wrapped in Nicene orthodoxy just as easily as Bible-belt Adventist apocalyptic.