“You should be thankful that your LCMS pastor wasn’t teaching you strict biblical inerrancy. At least he was teaching you a more historically accurate version of Biblical interpretation, and, incorporating accurate scientific principles in his position regarding evolution and the process of natural selection in animals and plants. Would you have preferred he had taught you a literal six day Creation??”
My answer: Actually, yes. I would have preferred he had taught me biblical inerrancy and the story of Creation as stated in the two LCMS doctrinal statements.
1. I like to get what I’m paying for. I was “paying” for confessional/orthodox, LCMS Lutheranism and thinking I was getting it. I was not. I feel cheated.
2. Now that I am a non-believer, I see just how much more dangerous moderate forms of Christianity can be compared to fundamentalism. In fundamentalism, the Bible is the final authority. If the Bible says that Methuselah lived to be over nine hundred years old and your pastor says he did not; one quick check of the Bible passage in question will demonstrate that the Bible is right and your pastor is wrong. Settled and done.
Not so in moderate versions of Christianity such as that created by my former LCMS pastor. In this version of Christianity, the pastor (or the theologian or apologist) is the final authority. And since my pastor had much, much more training, experience, and advanced degrees in theological matters, who am I to question him when he says that “nine hundred years old” does not mean “nine hundred years old”.
So how is this any different from liberal Christianity?
Here is the big difference: in liberal Christianity there are no bad consequences for the person who chooses not to become a follower of Jesus, a Christian. In moderate Christianity, there still is. There may not be literal fire in Hell in moderate Christianity, but moderate Christian pastors still preach that some form of eternal punishment awaits those who do not become Christians.
I never heard my former LCMS pastor preach on Hell, but in a private conversation with him regarding the eternal destiny of my two nephews whose mother and father are agnostics, I was told: There is no ‘covenantal birthright’ for my nephews unless one of their parents had been baptized. If neither my sister or my brother-in-law had been baptized, I would have no assurance that if my nephews were to die, without being baptized themselves, that they would go to heaven.
That is not liberal, universalist Christianity. That is still a version of the orthodox/fundamentalist doctrine of Hell. And this is why moderate Christianity is so dangerous: It still uses fear to control people but dresses the core fundamentalist beliefs up in a modern, pseudo-scientifically congruent façade, making it more difficult for the average man or woman in the pew to see how absolutely nonsensical and superstition-based it really is.
In conclusion, I will bet that within the next few years we are going to see more and more versions of moderate Christianity popping up in conservative Christian denominations. Why? Answer: There are just too many young, very intelligent, highly educated pastors, such as my former pastor, whose brains just cannot accept such ignorant assertions as that evolution is false and that an ancient manuscript can be perfectly inerrant.