Undoubtedly you have by now seen that the former bassist of Megadeath is enrolled in SMP through CSL. Well, good for him. I wish him every blessing in Christ.
The scandal in this story is not that the LCMS is about to get another praisebanding pastor - we've got a bushel and a peck of those a-ready. Nor is the scandal in that CSL is trying to get publicity from a semi-celebrity enrollé: any self-respecting institution of higher ed would do the same.
The scandal is this. SMP was sold to the Synod on two premises. First, that we have a shortage of clergy and thus need to ease academic requirements to fill the gaps in our ministerium. This is just false. Seven years on of shortages of calls in May have pretty much convinced even the bureaucrats to stop saying otherwise. Second, SMP was sold as needed to help fill special ministry situations, specifically mentioned were ethnic enclaves. I know, I was there when Larry Rast and Andy Bartelt sold it to us in convention: this was the big selling point. SMP would get guys who just could not otherwise go to seminary through - especially poor folks from ethnic communities who desperately needed native pastors and didn't have 4 years to wait and lots of money to spend.
I've already given you anecdotal stories about good old fashioned German-descended white guys getting in to SMP. I don't need to give you my private anecdotes anymore. Here is a real live rich white guy with a Vikingish last name (and beard!) who gets in to SMP. Why could not the Rev. Sem. Ellefson have just learned Greek and Hebrew and moved to St. Louis for 4 years like the rest of us? He would have received a much better education and been better prepared for the ministry for it. Does anyone honestly disagree? Does anyone honestly think that the regular 4 year programs and the SMP program provide equal preparation for the Ministry?
No. No thinking man of any experience in the Church thinks this. SMP is a second class, dumbed down, mostly distance ed, speed route to ordination. In that it is very unwise. But at least it is not asking men to pretend to be pastors when they are not, as in lay ministry, which is evil.
So, in a contest between unwise and evil I'll vote for unwise every time. But we could stop both. We could end SMP and lay ministry. We really could. All we need is a little leadership. I was glad to see that Larry Rast dared to speak some truth at the Symposia. Any one else in high places want to take up this baton?