Rev. J. Preus Dies; Was Lutheran Leader President of Missouri Synod for 12 Years

By Patricia Rice Post-Dispatch Religion | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 15, 1994 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Rev. J. Preus Dies; Was Lutheran Leader President of Missouri Synod for 12 Years

Patricia Rice Post-Dispatch Religion, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Rev. Dr. Jacob Aall Ottesen Preus, the past president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, died Saturday evening, apparently of a heart attack, near his daughter's home in suburban Minneapolis. He was 74.

The Rev. Dr. Preus was on a walk with his son-in-law when he collapsed about a block from the home. He was a resident of Laclede Oaks Manor, a Lutheran retirement community in Webster Groves.

In the early 1970s, the Rev. Dr. Preus led the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod through the most difficult religious crisis of its history. At the time of his death, he held the title of president emeritus of the church body.

The Rev. Dr. Ralph A. Bohlmann, also a president emeritus, said, "Through his wise and courageous leadership as church body and seminary president, as well as his scholarly work on Martin Chemnitz, Dr. Preus helped both his contemporaries and future generations understand and focus on the evangelical orthodoxy of the word of God that is the center of the Christian message.

"A churchman, scholar and friend, he will be missed and long remembered within Lutheranism," Bohlmann said.

The controversy in the '70s arose over the historical authenticity of Bible stories. The Rev. Dr. Preus was a conservative, and saw Bible stories, such as the story of Jonah and the whale, as historical. Many in his church, including most of the faculty of Concordia Seminary in Clayton, disagreed with him and said the stories were parables.

The Rev. Dr. Preus said that those who dismissed the story of Jonah as not being historical might eventually move to dismiss fundamental Christian tenets, such as the resurrection of Jesus.

He appointed a fact-finding committee to investigate what he saw as liberal professors at the school. In 1973, as a result of the committee's report, the majority of the Concordia Seminary faculty was accused of false teaching - in effect, heresy.

The Rev. Dr. John Tietjen, then the seminary's president, who championed the moderate faculty members' position, was removed on several charges.

Most of the faculty boycotted classes in protest of Tietjen's firing. All but five faculty members formed Concordia "Seminary in Exile," called Seminex.

Ultimately 100,000 lay members dropped their membership in the Missouri Synod, a figure smaller than many had predicted, said the Rev. David L. Mahsman, a spokesman for the synod.

The dissident group formed the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, which in 1988 merged with two other Lutheran groups - the Lutheran Church in America and The American Lutheran Church - to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

"Dr. Preus was thrust into serious controversies within our church body and managed to deal with the problems without a major split," Mahsman said.

The Rev. Dr. Preus did not fit the stereotype of a stuffy religious leader, said James E. Adams of University City, author of the book "Preus of Missouri." The biography highlights the Rev. Dr. Preus' role in the Missouri Synod controversy. Adams was religion editor of the Post-Dispatch during the split.

"He is a guy I enjoyed being with," Adams said Sunday.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Rev. J. Preus Dies; Was Lutheran Leader President of Missouri Synod for 12 Years


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?