The Deathbed of Lutheranism
The Rev. Friedrich Bente is known mostly among us for his Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions. He graduated Concordia Seminary in 1881, and served parishes in Ontario while simultanously serving as a District President from 1887-1893. It was in 1893 that he became Professor at Concordia Seminary where he served until 1926. He was also longtime editor of Lehre und Wehre, the Synod's magazine.
Much discussed in our day is the demographic decline of our Synod. Bente, writing almost 100 years ago, seems all too prophetic in seeing what indifference in doctrine and practice would do to our Synod and how it could break Missouri's spine. The way forward in our day can only be by holding and confessing the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and by the godly, salutary practices of the same. - BTB
If one permits one's eye to scan Europe, then one is in many instances tempted to speak of the deathbed of Lutheranism. But what has brought the Lutheran Church to its deathbed in Germany, in Norway, in Sweden, and in Denmark is nothing else that indifference to divine Lutheran truth. Also in America it has not in the past perchance been orthodoxy or doctrinal decision that has threatened the doom of the Lutheran Church, but indifference in doctrine and practice. An abhorrent example of how doctrinal indifference is able to disfigure and destroy our Church was already evident to our fathers in the General Synod of those days.
And once the members of our synod are not earnest as regards pure doctrine, the sun of truth will set also among us, zeal for God's kingdom will lag, congregations, schools, colleges, seminaries and periodicals will fall into decay, and the glory of the Lord will more and more depart from our midst. Indifference, which essentially nothing else than unbelief, would also break Missouri's spine, reduce it to sectarianism, and open its doors to modern liberalism. Even if its external growth should then yet be continued for a while, Missouri's greatness would have been shattered and it would be dedicated to certain decline and dissolution - from which God may graciously preserve us! (Dr. F. Bente, Lehre und Wehre, 1922, p. 146. Trans. by Dr. ET Lams)