You are currently browsing the daily archive for September 5, 2009.

Luther rose stained glassFor more on the 2009 ELCA Assembly, click here.

What follow are excerpts of reactions from Lutheran clergy and church bodies to the decision made in August 2009 to ordain sexually active gays (emphasis mine):

An ELCA pastor who was an Assembly delegate, the Revd Ryan Mills of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Grand Prairie, Texas (featured in Texanglican blog):  

… It was no freak of weather that a tornado hit the convention center during deliberations, and broke the cross off the steeple of the church next door.

The ‘bound consciences’ of congregations, synods, and bishops to disagree with the ministry policy changes, and to retain traditionalist oversight over their own clergy and pastoral practices is enshrined within these changes, but as we know from Richard John Neuhaus, where orthodoxy becomes optional, it will eventually be proscribed.

Unfortunately, as in the case of TEC [The Episcopal Church, formerly ECUSA!], this week’s small, supposedly representative deliberative body, became captive to the political designs of postmodernists dedicated to accomodating culture, appeasing sexual minorities, advocating for a gospel of ‘inclusiveness’, rejecting classical understandings of Scripture and tradition, and in general played into the wiles of the devil …

My guess is about 10% of ELCA congregations, mainly urban, elite, and ‘progressive’ will embrace these changes. The remaining 90% of congregations either see themselves too congregationally to care about this bizarre statement that has no authority under Scripture, or will be outraged at the rejection of the authority of Scripture, and the breaking of communion with our thriving orthodox Lutheran churches in the Global South developing world, our immigrant/migrant ethnic congregations (up until now the fastest growing within the ELCA), and grieve our creating a stumbling block for all Scriptural, Gospel-centered Christians: Protestant, Evangelicals, Anglican, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic alike.

Those who opposed these votes vehemently came from 2 particular streams, in ways that I think compare intriguingly to the faithful orthodox who have emerged from TEC into ACNA [Anglican Church of North America]: the Scripture-centered Evangelical pietist Lutherans, and the evangelical catholic Lutherans; perhaps roughly comparable to the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic parties who now comprise the ACNA …

A gathering of congregations in Indianapolis in September under the oversight of 6 or more retired bishops, seeks a new biblical, confessional, orthodox, missional Lutheran body in North America. Dozens of very large congregations, large swaths of evangelical catholic congregations, scores of rural pietist congregations, long-alienated Canadian congregations, and many African and Asian immigrant congregations will be represented. Do not expect an immediate ‘leaving’ of the ELCA, or individual Synods (Dioceses) to withdraw, but the gradual emergence of a robust and faithful ecclesial substance. There have already been overtures to this group from streams of Christendom that have surprised me. In Christ, the future is bright…

Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS, not the ELCA!) Press Release:

ELS President, Rev. John A. Moldstad, said: ‘Ordaining practicing homosexuals and lesbians to the ministry is a serious departure from the biblical standards of morality to which Lutherans and Lutheran pastors have historically been held.’ Moldstad clarified that, in contrast to the newly-adopted position of the ELCA, the position of the ELS on the matter of homosexuality and marriage is as follows:

We confess that Scripture condemns homosexuality and extra-marital relations (fornication and adultery) as sin. Nevertheless, when an individual caught up in such sins truly repents, the forgiveness of the Gospel is to be fully applied. We confess that the divine institution of marriage is to be heterosexual, in which, according to God’s design, a man and a woman may enjoy a life-long companionship in mutual love. We teach on the basis of Holy Scripture that marriage is the only proper context for the expression of sexual intimacy and for the procreation of children …

Said Moldstad, ‘The ELS believes that in this world it is the duty of the church – as the body of Christ – to be a community of healing and reconciliation in the Gospel, and a beacon of hope to all humanity. And so, while the church is indeed called by the Lord to condemn as sin that which God condemns as sin, it is the church’s privilege also to offer and apply the grace, forgiveness, and acceptance of God, in Jesus Christ, to all who repent of their sins – whatever those sins may be.’ 

Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) Statement from Dr Gerald B Kieschnick, President, LCMS:  

The two largest Lutheran church bodies in the United States are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) with 4.8 million members and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) with 2.4 million members.

On Friday, Aug. 21, the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to open the ministry of the ELCA to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in ‘committed relationships’.

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has repeatedly affirmed as its own position the historical understanding of the Christian church that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior as ‘intrinsically sinful’. It is therefore contrary to the will of the Creator and constitutes sin against the commandments of God.

Addressing the ELCA assembly on Saturday, Aug. 22, I responded to their aforementioned actions, stating: ‘The decisions by this assembly to grant non-celibate homosexual ministers the privilege of serving as rostered leaders in the ELCA and the affirmation of same-gender unions as pleasing to God will undoubtedly cause additional stress and disharmony within the ELCA. It will also negatively affect the relationships between our two church bodies. The current division between our churches threatens to become a chasm. This grieves my heart and the hearts of all in the ELCA, the LCMS, and other Christian church bodies throughout the world who do not see these decisions as compatible with the Word of God, or in agreement with the consensus of 2,000 years of Christian theological affirmation regarding what Scripture teaches about human sexuality. Simply stated, this matter is fundamentally related to significant differences in how we [our two church bodies] understand the authority of Holy Scripture and the interpretation of God’s revealed and infallible Word.’

We recognise that many brothers and sisters within the ELCA, both clergy and lay, are committed to remaining faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, are committed to the authority of Holy Scripture, and strongly oppose these actions. To them we offer our assurance of loving encouragement together with our willingness to provide appropriate support in their efforts to remain faithful to the Word of God and the historic teachings of the Lutheran church and all other Christian churches for the past 2,000 years.

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) Press Release:  

Rev. Mark Schroeder, president of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), is expressing regret at the vote of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) convention regarding homosexual clergy …

‘To view same-sex relationships as acceptable to God is to place cultural viewpoint and human opinions above the clear Word of God,’ says Schroeder. ‘The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, along with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and other smaller Lutheran synods, maintains and upholds the clear teaching of the Bible that homosexuality is not in keeping with God’s design and is sinful in God’s eyes.’  

At the same time, Schroeder says WELS congregations stand ready to support those struggling with same-sex attractions. ‘As with any sin, it is the church’s responsibility to show love and compassion to sinners, not by condoning or justifying the sin, but by calling the sinner to repent and by assuring the sinner that there is full forgiveness in Jesus Christ,’ Schroeder says.

WELS, with about 390,000 members and nearly 1,300 congregations nationwide, is the third largest Lutheran church body in the United States. In Wisconsin alone, there are more than 201,000 members and 417 congregations …

Schroeder says that WELS is firmly committed to upholding God’s design for marriage as outlined in Scripture—a design intended for one man and one woman … ‘Any departure from what God himself has designed does two things: it denies the clear teachings of Scriptures and it undermines God’s desire that the man/woman relationship in marriage be a blessing.’

Tomorrow: Conclusion — how churches are arriving at secular instead of spiritual decisions

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