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Grassroots meet theological fundamentals

Betsy Carlson (Editor, WordAlone Network)

November 22, 2006

The grassroots met some theological fundamentals at the WordAlone Network's annual fall theological conference Nov. 12-14.

photo of Betsy CarlsonFarmers, retailers, homemakers and clergy were reminded they all were theologians during the WordAlone Network's fall theological conference at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Fridley, Minn. Keynote speaker, Prof. Mark Mattes, Grand View College, Des Moines, Iowa, told them, "Luther taught us that all are theologians since all are Christians.

"Some are very good theologians and others not so good. But we are all condemned to be theologians in one way or another, and it is only through being damned that one is made into the best kind of theologian, a theologian of the cross."

Mattes, who teaches religion and philosophy, and Professor of Church History Walter Sundberg, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., each responded to eight propositions that Prof. Dennis Bielfeldt offered in the past year for consideration as fundamental to the theology of the WordAlone movement. Bielfeldt teaches philosophy and religion at South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D.

Bielfeldt, who is leading efforts to found a Lutheran theological house of studies, told the WordAlone members and friends at the conference that it was critically important in developing a house of studies to be precise about what theological position would be taught, communicated and what would be understood by it.

He stressed that adopting his proposed fundamentals was not something he could do on his own, but needed to be done on a "corporate level." The theological conference was planned as a working meeting so that those attending could discuss the proposals, provide feedback and help prepare WordAlone members to vote on fundamentals, possibly at next spring's convention.

After keynote speeches and formal responses to them, the conferees gathered in pre-assigned discussion groups to chew on the content of Bielfeldt's proposals. They were encouraged to take home to WordAlone chapters and members what they were learning and discussing.

Mattes' and Sundberg's papers are on the WordAlone web site along with Bielfeldt's responses to them.

Edited versions will appear in the next Network News. Bielfeldt's proposals have been posted on the web site for sometime and reported in the newsletter.

Here are the proposals in very abbreviated and simple form:

  1. Some theological statements are true and some aren't.
  2. God is a real being, not just a product of our thinking or consciousness. He is real in spite of the fact that we cannot taste, smell, touch or see him, nor can we measure him scientifically.
  3. God, as a real entity, causes things to happen in the universe.
  4. Structures and institutions are affected by what has come before and are not divine.
  5. Nothing that is finite--limited or created--can be or become infinite--divine and without limit. Lutherans believe the finite can hold the infinite--Jesus' body and blood are given in, with and under the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper.
  6. The true church is not visible, but hidden and one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
  7. Because of original sin, we inevitably turn from the Almighty God to false gods.
  8. The Holy Spirit doesn't need our help but brings salvation to individuals on his own.