“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” CS Lewis.
I am back in town and plan to write about a few women I learned about in Italy.
Corey Mahler gets the boot.
For me, one of the most compelling arguments for hell is that it means men like Hitler will not get away with their crimes against humanity. So, when I read the following headline at Rolling Stone He Believes Hitler Went to Heaven — and Wants to Take Over the Lutheran Church, I was not amused. The subtitle to the post was even more upsetting. “A nearly two million-member synod is fighting an attempt to turn its pews into a bastion for young fascists.” I had difficulty imagining my LCMS church filled with budding white nationalists. Then I read that the guy leading this charge was Corey Mahler, and I was not surprised. Mahler is a fixture on Twitter, attacking anyone who disagrees with his stance on things like the role of women (they’re inferior to men), etc. According to Rolling Stone:
On Ash Wednesday, the First Lutheran Church in Knoxville called the cops on a parishioner who was attempting to attend services. Corey Mahler — a white nationalist who has sought to transform the Lutheran Church into a bastion for young fascists — was removed from church grounds for causing what his pastor called “harm and division to the body of Christ.”
The move against Mahler in Tennessee was set in motion a day earlier in St. Louis. The president of the nation’s second-largest Lutheran denomination posted a denunciation of agitators “propagating radical and unchristian ‘alt-right’ views” and advocating the “destruction” of the church’s leadership. Addressing what he termed the “most bizarre” development of his tenure, Pastor Matt Harrison declared: “This is evil.”
Several of us have encountered him on Twitter. One person contacted the LCMS headquarters complaining about his comments. Here is a link to his website and a link to his Twitter account. Here are three tweets to give you an idea of his thinking.
One conversation on Reddit condemning Mahler(who is a lawyer) offered these examples:
All that said, I did look into Corey Mahler some. Several people have sent things via modmail or via chat. Thank you for this. Here I see that Mahley has used language like
Praying for the destruction of the Jew (See here)
“Genocide is not necessarily immoral” (See here)
Some weird stuff about Hitler (See here
“Woman is ontologically inferior to man.” (See here)
“All theology written by women is a portal to Hell.” (See here)
Comments about making it illegal for woman to own property (See here)
“What is the ideal number of Jews?” (See here)
In addition to this, one article (see here) mentions that Mahler (apparently a lawyer?) was involved with raising money for a white supremacist.
Lutheran fascism or Lutefash? Good night!
The LCMS’ fight against the ‘alt-Right’ has burst into the open on the heels of the mid-February publication of a damning research dossier by Machaira Action, a new anti-fascist group, that details Mahler’s role the rise of Lutheran fascism — or what it dubs “Lutefash.”
In an earlier post by Religion News, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod president calls for excommunicating white nationalists also looked at the serious nature of the problem.
In a letter dated Feb. 21, LCMS President Matthew Harrison said he was “shocked to learn recently that a few members of LCMS congregations have been propagating radical and unchristian ‘alt-right’ views via Twitter and other social media.” He noted far-right members were causing “local disruption” for congregations and alleged that LCMS leadership and deaconesses had fallen victim to online threats, some of which he described as “serious.”
…The letter comes in the wake of an article published this month by antifascist group Machaira Action alleging the “rise of a white supremacist faction within the Lutheran faith.” The post singled out Corey Mahler, who has reportedly been active in far-right circles for years and has posted about whiteness and “white genocide” on Twitter. Mahler also identifies as a Christian nationalist.
What is Christian nationalism?
Christianity Today wrote a post asking the same question What Is Christian Nationalism?
Christian nationalism is the belief that the American nation is defined by Christianity, and that the government should take active steps to keep it that way. Popularly, Christian nationalists assert that America is and must remain a “Christian nation”—not merely as an observation about American history, but as a prescriptive program for what America must continue to be in the future.
…Christian nationalists want to define America as a Christian nation and they want the government to promote a specific cultural template as the official culture of the country. Some have advocated for an amendment to the Constitution to recognize America’s Christian heritage, others to reinstitute prayer in public schools. Some work to enshrine a Christian nationalist interpretation of American history in school curricula, including that America has a special relationship with God or has been “chosen” by him to carry out a special mission on earth. Others advocate for immigration restrictions specifically to prevent a change to American religious and ethnic demographics or a change to American culture. Some want to empower the government to take stronger action to circumscribe immoral behavior.
The controversy over the Book of Concord exposed the thinking of the white nationalists.
What is the Book of Concord? According to the Book of Concord website:
The Book of Concord contains documents which Christians from the fourth to the 16th century A.D. explained what they believed and taught on the basis of the Holy Scriptures. It includes, first, the three creeds which originated in the ancient church, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. It contains, secondly, the Reformation writings known as the Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms, and the Formula of Concord.
The Catechisms and the Smalcald Articles came from the pen of Martin Luther; the Augsburg Confession, its Apology, and the Treatise were written by Luther’s co-worker, the scholarly Phillip Melanchthon; the Formula of Concord was given its final form chiefly by Jacob Andreae, Martin Chemnitz, and Nickolaus Selnecker.
The Roys Report posted Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod President Calls for Excommunicating White Nationalists, describing the controversy over Luther’s Large Catechism, part of the Book of Concord.
In his letter, Harrison said extremists’ efforts were also the “genesis” of a recent controversy over a new edition of Luther’s Large Catechism.
Earlier this year, the president asked Concordia Publishing House, the denomination’s publishing partner, to pause distribution of the new “Luther’s Large Catechism with Annotations and Contemporary Applications,” citing an “online disturbance.”
The move came out of an “abundance of caution” over concerns expressed about the content of 50 new essays included in the volume to contextualize the catechism written by Reformer Martin Luther, according to an update from Harrison published by the Reporter, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s newspaper. The Large Catechism includes Luther’s explanations of the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and other foundational Christian beliefs and is used by clergy in Lutheran denominations to help explain the faith to their congregants.
A one-star review on Amazon complains, “Women, forbidden from teaching according to Scripture, are afforded extensive opportunities to do just that in this sorry compilation.”
Others slam the accompanying essays as “woke” and accuse them of promoting pedophilia.
In particular, a popular Twitter thread by Ryan Turnipseed takes issue with essays acknowledging “economic and societal privilege” and same-sex attraction, as well as suggesting a Lutheran approach to social justice.
“I have had time to re-evaluate the controverted sentences and found that while some things might have been expressed more clearly, nevertheless, there is nothing in the content of the volume promoting critical race theory (CRT), confusion of sexuality issues, or any theological position at odds with biblical and confessional Lutheranism,” Harrison wrote in his update.
To make matters worse, according to Rolling Stone, Mahler was once the webmaster for the Book of Concord.
Mahler moved to Tennessee, where he’s led far-right agitation within LCMS — at one point becoming webmaster for the “Book of Concord,” the Lutheran Church’s manual of doctrine. Mahler has used that clout to build relationships with what he calls “faithful pastors,” while dreaming of “cleaning house” of the church’s current leadership, and leading an “influx of hardline young men” into LCMS congregations.(He claims to have personally recruited “dozens.”)
In the end, Mahler is gone from the LCMS. But that doesn’t mean he’s gone. He is continuing his efforts and claims to be a committed LCMS member. Harrison did the right thing. I am astonished that this stuff was happening in my quiet denomination. Thankfully, the leaders are standing firm. Here is a link to Harrison’s letter denouncing disturbing ideologies. You might find it interesting reading. I close with this portion of the letter. I highlighted the part of the letter to which I, too, can attest.
We were shocked to learn recently that a few members of LCMS congregations have been propagating radical and unchristian “alt-right” views via Twitter and other social media. They are causing local disruption and consternation for their pastors, congregations and district presidents. They have publicly stated that they seek the destruction of the LCMS leadership. They have made serious online threats to individuals and scandalously attacked several faithful LCMS members. Through these social media posts, even our wonderful deaconesses have been threatened and attacked.
This is evil. We condemn it in the name of Christ.
These “alt-right” individuals were at the genesis of a recent controversy surrounding essays accompanying a new publication of Luther’s Large Catechism. This group used that opportunity to produce not only scandalous attacks and widespread falsehoods, but also to promote their own absolutist ideologies.
Anyone trying to sully the reputation of the LCMS based on comments from a small number of online provocateurs does not know the loving, faithful, generous, kind and welcoming Synod that I have met all across the nation. Our people are delighted to gather with sinners of every stripe to receive full and free forgiveness from our crucified Savior and are not represented by these few men with their sinful agenda.
Good move, President Harrison.