LOGIA After Twenty Years: some thoughts by Martin Noland

—by Martin R. Noland

The editors of LOGIA: A Journal of Lutheran Theology had a productive annual meeting in West Saint Paul, Minnesota in June. Meeting at the church of Senior Editor, Dr. Michael Albrecht, we all became a little bit nostalgic as we made plans for our forthcoming issue “LOGIA After Twenty Years” (Holy Trinity 2012). If you are not a subscriber, it isn’t too late to receive that issue by subscribing at our website ($20 for one year of the online PDF version; $30 for one year of the print version to USA address; to order, see website at: www.logia.org.)

When I got home, I started rummaging through my library and files for anything pertaining to the first years of LOGIA. By chance, I found the “Theological Observer” article authored by David P. Scaer titled “LOGIA: A Journal of Lutheran Theology” in Concordia Theological Quarterly 57 #1-2 (January-April 1993): 113-116. If you have a copy of that issue, it is worth pulling out and reading Scaer’s evaluations of LOGIA.

Overall, Scaer was impressed by the first issue of LOGIA. The editors knew that they could win him over with that Dürer woodcut of God the Father wearing a papal tiara! In the first paragraph, Scaer gave the highest praise: “Among those periodicals claiming to present the confessional Lutheran position, however, none is as impressive as LOGIA!”

Scaer noted the churches of the contributing editors: Lutheran (State) Church of Hanover, Lutheran Church of Australia, Lutheran Church-Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He overlooked the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, but not intentionally. Since then LOGIA has added contributing editors who are members of Lutheran churches in Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Sweden, Madagascar, and South Africa.

Scaer observed that the working editors belong to the “younger generation of pastors.” As I looked around the table this June in Minneapolis, that is still true, but we are working now with a second generation of younger pastor-editors, with a few “grey-heads” left like me and Dr. Albrecht.

Scaer understood the significance of LOGIA when he observed, “Perhaps the message here is that Lutheran theology of the confessional sort is not the possession of one church body and a younger generation wants to be involved” and “In any event LOGIA tells us that theology is still alive among the non-professionals.” I might add that the LOGIA editors want the younger generation of pastors and other “non-professionals” to be involved.

One paragraph in Scaer’s review had a dark tone. He wrote: “Unstated in LOGIA is the premise that additional channels are needed to do justice to confessional, and presumably, biblical theology. We shall see how courageous the editors are” (my emphasis). Scaer had survived spurious charges of false doctrine filed by a CTS staff member, but his defender, Robert Preus, did not survive that affair. Scaer wrote his review of LOGIA while he and the faculty at Fort Wayne were still under an interim presidency following the firing of Robert Preus. So he knew what this meant from personal experience.

In order to see “how courageous the editors” were, I took a sampling based on my own contributions to LOGIA for the years 1995 (my first piece) to 2007, a mix of articles and Logia Forum pieces. In those fourteen articles and pieces I was critical of events and trends in Lutheranism such as: “church growth,” Evangelical-style worship, secular methods of marketing and manipulation, “creative worship,” “entertainment evangelism,” the secularization of Lutheran colleges, the CCM ruling to expel congregations that oppose woman’s suffrage for theological reasons (an LCMS issue), CCM power in general (an LCMS issue), “Lutherans Alive” (an LCMS political group), modernism in the ELCA, the ecumenical movement, the Porvoo Statement and Declaration (1996), the Formula of Agreement (1997), Called to Common Mission (1999), the Joint Declaration on Doctrine of Justification (1999), and the Lutheran World Federation.

If that wasn’t enough to offend some folks, in those fourteen articles and pieces I actually named persons whose writings or theology I disagreed with: Jaroslav Pelikan, David Luecke, Waldo Werning, Alan Klaas, George Lindbeck, First Things, Richard John Neuhaus, James Neuchterlein, Francis Schaeffer, Walter Bouman, Arthur Carl Piepkorn, Carl Braaten, Robert Jenson, and Gerhard Forde. I was hardly the only theological critic writing in LOGIA nor was I the most frequent or most trenchant. Whether you judge our criticisms to be “courageous” or “foolhardy,” you can’t say that LOGIA has been manned by a bunch of milquetoasts.

Toward the end of his review, Scaer noted, “The editors are off to a good start, but whether they can maintain an adequate level of scholarship, enthusiasm, editorial work, and financial support is another matter.” Our readers will have to be the judge of the first three qualities, while financial support is always welcome.

In the support department, pastors can, at the very least, encourage their brother pastors at circuit meetings to subscribe and those so encouraged can put LOGIA on their “book allowance.” At $5 an issue (online PDF version), that is less than a lunch at McDonald's these days.

Our hearty thanks and best wishes to Dr. Scaer, and to many others, for their support and encouragement through these past twenty years!