Regarding the Editorial Process for the Concordia Journal
As has been made previously known, we received letters from the Rev. Richard Snow, President of the Nebraska District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and Dr. John Jurchen, Associate Professor at Concordia University, Nebraska, in which Dr. Jurchen requested that we withdraw his article that was published in the Summer 2017 issue of the Concordia Journal. We accepted Dr. Jurchen’s decision, and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, considers his article retracted. As was stated then, that decision obligates us, out of respect for Dr. Jurchen’s request, to no longer comment on the specifics of his article, since it is no longer part of the public discourse. This is also why we did not comment on the status of his article until the letters were received, since it would have been improper and inappropriate for Concordia Seminary to interfere with Rev. Snow and Dr. Jurchen as they were going through their process of discernment, a process that we as a synod have, in charity, agreed to abide by.
But we know that this decision leaves open the question: how did an article that has been withdrawn from publication pass through the editorial process for the Concordia Journal in the first place? To answer this question, a word of background is in order. The editorial process for the Concordia Journal includes a double-blind peer review process, which is considered best practice and the gold standard for academic publishing. This peer review accomplishes two goals: 1) it ensures the academic scholarship and integrity of writing published in the Concordia Journal; and 2) it fulfills Concordia Seminary’s responsibility for doctrinal review of its theological publications according to Bylaw 18.104.22.168 of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
In the case of Dr. Jurchen’s article, entitled “The Age of the Earth and Confessional Lutheranism,” our editorial judgment regarding Dr. Jurchen’s argument was that he was making a case for pastoral care and concern for people who held to Old Earth Creationist views, not advocating for Old Earth Creationism as a doctrinal position. It has become clear to us that portions of the article did not articulate this argument clearly and presented a confusing witness regarding the synodical position as outlined in the Brief Statement adopted by the LCMS at the 1932 Synodical Convention. As Dr. Jurchen himself stated in his letter, “I was in error to imply that the LCMS has acknowledged Day-Age theory as an acceptable exegesis of the Creation account of Genesis 1 & 2.”
Likewise, in this particular case, our editorial judgment failed to correct this error. In hindsight, we should have required a revision of those sections that contained the implication that the LCMS has acknowledged Day-Age theory as an acceptable exegesis of the Creation account in Genesis 1 & 2.
For that, we were in error. We apologize and ask forgiveness for the confusion this has caused.
We also want to assure our readers that we have renewed our focus upon the editorial process of the Concordia Journal. It was not the editorial process that failed, but our implementation of the process in this particular case. As the Concordia Journal enters its 44th year of publication, we stand by its exemplary record of theological witness and scholarship. We continue to uphold our responsibilities for doctrinal fidelity and faithfulness with the highest level of care and attention.
Charles P. Arand
Dean of Theological Research and Publication