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Two ELCA — Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — pastors have been in the news this month.

Adult content follows — discretion advised.

On Tuesday, December 4, 2018, Big League Politics reported on a story that first appeared in the Christian Post about the Revd Nadia Bolz-Weber who:

is protesting the “evangelical purity culture,” also known as “adherence to the scripture,” and sometimes even “Christianity.” Her plan is to “take down” the church’s teaching about sex, which makes one wonder why she became a pastor in the first place.

This month, she is asking girls to send her their purity rings so that they can be melted down to make a golden vagina:

Mail in your purity rings to be melted down into a special sculpture. In return you’ll receive a Certificate of Impurity, an “Impurity” ring, and the support of all those ready to support a sexual reformation!

Big League Politics tells us:

“This thing about women that the church has tried to hide and control and that is a canvas on which other people can write their own righteousness ― it’s actually ours,” Bolz-Weber reportedly said to HuffPost. “This part of me is mine and I get to determine what is good for it and if it’s beautiful and how I use it in the world.”

The Christian Post article says that one pastor left the ELCA, he was so disgusted by this and similar clerical goings-on (emphases mine):

Rev. Tom Brock, formerly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, crushed Bolz-Weber on his blog. He left the church over its liberal stances on abortion and same-sex marriage.

“Instead of disciplining this heretical pastor, the ELCA invites her to speak at events,” he said. “I am part of a clergy Facebook page for ELCA and former ELCA pastors and it is tragic to see some of them defend all this.”

Bolz-Weber’s website’s About page has a potted autobiography:

NADIA BOLZ-WEBER first hit the New York Times list with her 2013 memoir—the bitingly honest and inspiring Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint followed by the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller Accidental Saints in 2015. A former stand-up comic and a recovering alcoholic, Bolz-Weber is the founder and former pastor of a Lutheran congregation in Denver, House for All Sinners and Saints. She speaks at colleges and conferences around the globe.

Big League Politics says:

Bolz-Weber’s behavior is simply the effect of modern liberalism on the church, which tends to preach God’s love and acceptance, forgetting that a large portion of the bible teaches God’s wrath and anger with the wicked.

Their second ELCA clergyman up for examination is the Revd Steven Sabin:

On Monday, December 10, Big League Politics reported on the pastor, who is from San Francisco:

A gay Lutheran Pastor with a history of fighting for gay rights within the church was arrested for possession of child pornography in mid November.

“The Reverend Steven Sabin, pastor at Christ Church Lutheran at Quintara Street and 20th Avenue, was arrested November 15 on three felony charges,” according to Bay Area Reporter. 

Sabin pleaded not guilt to one count of distribution of child pornography and two counts of possession or control of child pornography. According to a San Francisco Police Department news release, the investigators “located a cellphone belonging to Sabin, which contained hundreds of child pornography videos and images depicting juvenile minors being sexually abused. During a subsequent search, investigators found that Sabin was storing child pornography on a cloud storage application.”

The pastor has since been released on bail while he awaits a Dec. 19 pre-trial hearing.

The article says that, in 1998, before the ELCA went off-piste, they expelled Sabin for coming out of the closet. Sabin then joined an offshoot of the ELCA, Christ Church Lutheran. Fortunately, Christ Church Lutheran San Francisco took the child pornography charges seriously and issued this announcement:

We have learned of the arrest of Steve Sabin, who will no longer serve as pastor of Christ Church Lutheran. We are concerned for and ask for prayers for all affected, including all victims of sexual misconduct and for the people of the congregation of Christ Church. We will cooperate fully with law enforcement. We have zero tolerance for clergy sexual misconduct and are committed to providing safe spaces for all children and youth in our church.

Big League Politics points out that the ELCA has gone off the rails over the past two decades:

The ELCA, from which Sabin was booted for being gay, now accepts openly gay pastors, even one who teaches “sex positivity” and is asking young women to send her their purity rings so she can mold them into a large golden vagina. Needless to say, this is contrary to biblical teachings.

Absolutely.

Those looking for a church, especially parents with children, need to exercise caution and pray for discernment.

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Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. — KJV Hebrews 13:8-9

Whoa! 

One News Now reports that the ELCA’s Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson spoke at a town hall meeting in Chicago on December 6, 2009.  About the ELCA’s position on homosexuality, he said:

‘the understanding we have of homosexuality today does not seem to be reflected at all in the context of the biblical writers.’ Therefore, he said, Lutherans should consider more modern views on sexual orientation

So, looking at his actual quote, how does he explain Sodom and Gomorrah?  Was it just an Old Testament thing? Jude 1:7 refers to Sodom and Gomorrah.  Is that outdated, too?  What makes it so?  What about Romans 1:26-27?  Do we say that Paul’s now gone by the wayside?  We can’t ignore Bible verses to suit our own convenience.  Well, it seems Bishop Hanson says we can.  He, lobbying groups and secular culture know better.  Right.

Bishop Hanson is barking up the wrong tree when:

He also suggests that more homosexual-friendly policies may help the denomination grow.

He’ll be sorry. ELCA members from minority groups have already voiced their disapproval of homosexual-friendly policies.  In the comments accompanying the article is this one from an ELCA pastor:

I am an ELCA member and pastor. I have listened to Hanson’s answer over and over again, just to make sure I understood what he said, so that I can share it with those I serve. We will be leaving the ELCA as soon as we can because ‘sola scriptura’ means what it means to us!

A subsequent One News Now report stated that ELCA spokesman John Brooks said that Hanson cited that view ‘without espousing it’.  Hmm.  Damage limitation, methinks.

H/T:  Stand Firm

Arcus Foundation logoThanks to Stand Firm (Traditional Anglicanism in America), we can find out more about how one foundation is promoting the LGBT agenda in Christian churches and organisations.  Whilst this is primarily in the US at the moment, it is likely to become more widespread internationally.

My vicar and I have the occasional head-to-head about LGBTs in Anglicanism.  He’s never been to the US.  I lived there for more than half of my life and was deeply involved in The Episcopal Church (TEC) during the 1980s.  At my parish LGBTs ran all the big committees and had a lot of power. We all knew it, and only a few families switched parishes because of it. The vicar says, ‘That couldn’t be true — they suffer so much and the Church offers them no place at all.’  Pomo alert — doubting someone’s experiences! Well, sorry, I’m also going to tell you, my readers, how it was 20 – 25 years ago.  If it was like that at the time, I’m sure the situation has only improved for many Christian LGBTs in the metropolitan US.  And, to my knowledge, no outside funding or lobbying was necessary

But, back to the story.  Fr Andrew Gross, an Episcopal priest, has uncovered donations made by the Arcus Foundation, which has a dual purpose: saving apes and promoting gay rights.  No, you couldn’t make it up.  Fr Andrew asks readers of his post to communicate the following.  Happy to oblige.

As revealing as the following points are, the headline donation is to Lutherans Concerned (see below, highlighted).

Arcus’s 2008 annual report, divided in halves — one for the apes and one for LGBT activities, gives to some interesting foundations, seminaries, churches and religious initiatives, among them:

Churches and church-based groups

Cathedral Church of St James, Chicago, IL: $177,251 of the Chicago Consultation to promote the full inclusion of LGBT faithful in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion

Integrity, Rochester, NY:  $60,000 for two half-time field organizers to support efforts to promote the full inclusion of LGBT faithful in the Episcopal Church

Lutherans Concerned, St Paul, MN: $200,000 over two years to organise and support a grassroots collaborative to change existing denominational policy at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America toward the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith

Mainstream Media Project, Arcata, GA: $23,000 to work with four leading Catholic LGBT organizations to conduct a messaging campaign and schedule interviews in the broadcast media that promote pro-LGBT messages in connection with Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Washington, DC and New York in April 2008 

United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns, Cleveland, OH: $45,000 for general operating support of the primary LGBT advocacy group working within the United Church of Christ to expand its efforts to promote the full inclusion of LGBT people in church and society 

Seminaries

Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL: $335,000 over three years for the LGBTQ Religious Studies Center to develop and disseminate a theological and philosophical framework that affirms the full expression of LGBT sexuality

Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL: $132,162 for support of the Chicago Consultation’s efforts to promote the full inclusion of LGBT faithful in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion 

University religious programmes

Emory University, Atlanta, GA: $50,000 over two years to expand the coverage of sexuality and gender in the new online magazine, Religion Dispatches, by supporting the inclusion of LGBT contributors and an ongoing analysis of issues concerning sexuality

Western Michigan University Foundation, Kalamazoo, MI: $44,263 for the performance of Western Michigan University Theatre Department’s production of ‘Seven Passages: The Stories of Gay Christians’ at the Anglican Communion‘s Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England 

Foundations and charities

Dignity USA, Medford, MA: $20,000 to support media and advocacy activities in connection with the first visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States in April 2008

Tides Foundation, San Francisco, CA: $198,000 over two years for the Global Development Fund to support ARC International to advance the recognition of human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity at the international level through strategic planning, coalition and movement building and advocacy 

Please read the link above for Tides, which explains:

Set up in 1976 by California activist Drummond Pike, Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used.

In practice, ‘Tides’ behaves less like a philanthropy than a money-laundering enterprise (apologies to Procter & Gamble), taking money from other foundations and spending it as the donor requires. Called donor-advised giving, this pass-through funding vehicle provides public-relations insulation for the money’s original donors. By using Tides to funnel its capital, a large public charity can indirectly fund a project with which it would prefer not to be directly identified in public. Drummond Pike has reinforced this view, telling The Chronicle of Philanthropy: ‘Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.’

In order to get an idea of the massive scale on which the Tides Foundation plays its shell game, consider that Tides has collected over $200 million since 1997, most of it from other foundations …

Among the most unbelievable ‘projects’ of the Tides Center is something called the Institute for Global Communications (www.igc.org). IGC is a clearinghouse for Leftist propagandists of all stripes …

Now reread above regarding how Arcus’s grant to Tides will be used.

I’ve mentioned before on this and another blog how important it is for a church to be financially independent, beholden to no one.  The aforementioned donations show the power money brings to a cause.  As Fr Andrew warns (emphasis mine):

It means that money from a secular organization is being used to tilt the balance of power within our churches.

It means that in 2008 while Seabury Western Seminary was slashing its budget, cutting staff, and dramatically ‘restructuring’ and ‘revisioning’, they were also acting as a conduit for the Chicago Consultation.

It helps us understand where some of the money came from for the gay lobby’s presence at the 2008 Lambeth Conference … I would say it’s highly probable that the Arcus money helped pay for the Chicago Consultation‘s Voices of Witness Africa documentary.

It reveals some of the funding behind Integrity’s ‘field organizers’. Currently Integrity only lists one field organizer on its website, but the job description is worth noting: ‘Diocesan Convention Resolutions, General Convention Resolutions, Electing Bishops, Electing Deputies, Integrity’s legislative team at General Convention.’ If your diocesan Integrity chapter seemed well organized in 2008-2009, you have the Arcus Foundation to ‘thank’.

While the Arcus Foundation modestly increased their funding of Integrity, it appears that the Foundation recognizes that the most contested arena in the Anglican battle is now international, where the Chicago Consultation is better positioned to effect change.

Then, he explains the Arcus strategy:

The Arcus Foundation was created by billionaire Jon Stryker, one of the heirs to the Stryker fortune. Stryker is a medical manufacturing company, and if you’ve had a joint replacement surgery, and/or laid in a hospital bed recently, odds are you’ve used one of their products…

In addition to the vast array of organizations funded by the Arcus Foundation, Jon Stryker has also spent millions of dollars to fund the campaigns of LGBT friendly politicians in Michigan. Focusing on state politics was a strategy that Jon learned from watching activists at work in Colorado. His sister, Pat, and multi-millionaire Tim Gill have worked to re-shape Colorado politics. As Salon.com reported in 2006, Jon, inspired by their example, took that model and ‘super-sized it’…

Lisa Turner, political director for Jon Stryker, reassures us: ‘Jon is committed to this for the long term,’ said Turner. ‘This is just the beginning.’

Fr Andrew goes on to say in the comments:

The Arcus Foundation has been actively working on partnerships targeting Africa with much larger foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation.  Our African brethren in the Anglican Communion have chosen to turn down large sums of money from TEC, Trinity Wall Street, and others because the money for ‘economic development’ came packaged with a revisionist agenda.  Those moneys will pale in comparison to the ‘economic development’ initiatives that Arcus and the Rockefeller Foundation are working on, and the Africans charged with accepting or denying the money are more likely to be secular politicians, rather than Archbishops and Bishops.

Be warned.  Be aware.

Luther Rose stained glass 2For more on the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, click here.

Regular readers of Churchmouse Campanologist know that this blog supports orthodoxy and ecumenism.  Over the past few weeks, it has looked at how the Social Gospel has become all-powerful in both the Catholic and Protestant circles, including — perhaps especially — among the hierarchy. 

Clergy at all levels are increasingly guilty of falling prey to appeasement.  The secular world wants something, so we Christians must give in.  Two thousand years of Holy Scripture are suddenly bunk!  ‘Oh, that wasn’t really Jesus talking’ or ”That stuff is so old!  It’s time to move on!’

Woe betide the Christian who disagrees.  He becomes an outcast in his own congregation and denomination.  Orthodoxy is so yesterday.  Society is where the action is. 

As we move deeper into secular appeasement, we travel further from God’s Word.  Everything becomes relative.  Hey, if you like it, do it.  Hence, we make up all sorts of excuses for illicit sexual activity: it’s ‘normal’, ‘fun’, ‘natural’.  Never mind that it causes all manner of diseases: STDs, herpes, AIDS.  So, it has to be a non-spiritual force speaking within us when we Christians start saying we want to ordain people who actively disobey God. 

Robert Benne, the Director of the Roanoke College Center for Religion and Society, was a delegate at the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.  He recently wrote an article for VirtueOnline entitled ‘ELCA: How Did We Come to This?‘  About the Social Statement on Sexuality that the Assembly adopted, he says (emphasis mine):

The Statement was firm and bold on issues that everyone agreed upon-the moral condemnation of promiscuity, pornography, sexual exploitation, etc. – but indecisive and vague about contested issues – co-habitation, premarital sex, the importance of the nuclear family, and, of course, homosexual conduct …

The church left the Great Tradition of moral teaching to identify with the United Church of Christ and the Episcopalians

‘There is nothing but the Social Gospel,’ shouted a voting member at the assembly. But that is certainly not Lutheran doctrine

But the ELCA has accepted the Social Gospel as its working theology even though its constitution has a marvelous statement of the classic Gospel. The liberating movements fueled by militant feminism, multiculturalism, anti-racism, anti-heterosexism, anti-imperialism, and now ecologism have been moved to the center while the classic Gospel and its missional imperatives have been pushed to the periphery.

Benne says that the ELCA’s Presiding Bishop, Mark S Hanson, ‘is fast becoming the charismatic leader of liberal Protestantism’.  And I theorise that he wants his place in future theology texts about early 21st century Christianity in the United States.  But there’s also a bit of the ‘aging guy wanting to be seen as a hipster’ about him.  It has to be an intimation of mortality to push this rubbish in place of the Gospel, which is what I would be thinking about if I were he. 

We have such lax morals today and such a guilt complex about our heritage that the combination of these two factors cause us to roll over and play dead.  Let everyone and their special interests run over us.  Do we think as Christians that people will actually respect us for that?  

This is especially crucial in the ELCA missions which, for a denomination (Lutheranism) emanating from a nation with no empire to speak of (Germany), are very healthy indeed.  But what would you think if a stranger met you for the first time and seemed to be full of self-loathing, then contradicted what he said about something they loved.  Imagine a missionary saying he loved the Word of God then explained that the Bible was open to interpretation on fundamental teachings about life and morality.  What must the missioned-to living outside the United States think?  Especially if their own nation’s laws forbid certain activities — like same-sex relationships, for one! 

Can’t the ELCA, Episcopalians and Congregationalists (United Church of Christ) see that people in the developing world live and obey in an orthodox way?  Why is it that we Westerners have fallen away from natural law and Biblical truth?  Lucky for the those outside the West that postmodernism has passed them by.  What a blessing!  Note that the minorities in the ELCA hoped the motion on sexuality would fail.  Who’s ignoring whom now?  The progressive do-gooders.

Benne explains the flawed thinking of the ELCA, which is representative of the way many Westerners also think:

The policies issuing from these liberationist themes are non-negotiable in the ELCA, which is compelling evidence that they are at the center. No one can dislodge the ELCA’s commitment to purge all masculine language about God from its speech and worship, to demur on the biblically normative status of the nuclear family, to refuse to put limits on abortion in its internal policies or to advocate publicly for pro-life policies, to press for left-wing public domestic and foreign policy, to replace evangelism abroad with dialog, to commit to ‘full inclusion’ of gays and lesbians at the expense of church unity and to buy in fully to the movement against global warming. Though it is dogmatic on these issues it is confused about something as important as the assessment of homosexual conduct. Yet, it acts anyway because of the pressure exerted by those who want to liberate church and society from heterosexism.

Yet, the ELCA exemplifies the radical thinking that came to fruition beginning in the late 1980s when it was founded.  Benne elaborates:

The ELCA has a particular history that has compounded these problems. The mid-80s planning stage of the ELCA was dramatically affected by a group of radicals who pressed liberationist (feminist, black, multiculturalist, gay) legislative initiatives right into the center of the ELCA structures. Among them was a quota system that skews every committee, council, task force, synod assembly, and national assembly toward the ‘progressive’ side. (There are quotas for representing specific groups in all the organized activity of the church. 60% must be lay, 50% must be women, 10% must be people of color or whose language is other than English. The losers, of course, are white male pastors; our Virginia delegation to the assembly, for example, had only one male pastor among its eight elected members.) Further, the prescribed structure distanced the 65 Bishops from the decision-making of the church. The Bishops have only influence, not power. (Aware of their divisiveness, the Bishops voted 44-14 to require a two thirds majority for the enactment of the Sexuality Task Force’s policy recommendations, but were ignored by both the Church Council and the Assembly.) Theologians were given no formal, ongoing, corporate role in setting the direction of the ELCA. They, too, were kept at a distance and actually viewed as one more competing interest group..

The radicals so decisive in the defining moments of the ELCA intended to smash the authority of the influential white male theologians and bishops who had informally kept both the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America on course. The radicals wanted many voices and perspectives, especially those of the ‘marginalized’, put forward in the ongoing deliberations of the ELCA. They were so successful that now after twenty years there is no authoritative biblical or theological guidance in the church. There are only many voices. The 2009 Assembly legitmated those many voices by adapting a ‘bound-conscience’ principle in which anyone claiming a sincerely-held conviction on about any doctrine must be respected. The truth of the Word of God has been reduced to sincerely-held opinion.

Hmm!  And what happened? 

What was truly chilling about the Assembly’s debates was that the revisionists seemed to quote Jesus and the Bible as knowledgeably and persuasively as the orthodox. Passages reinforcing their respective agendas were selected and then brilliantly woven into their arguments. Both sides seemed to have the Bible on their side. The revisionists ‘contextualized’ and relativized the relevant texts. The orthodox claimed a plain sense reading of Scripture. The Lutheran Confessions were utilized effectively by both sides. There was no authoritative interpretation conveyed by any agent or agency in the church. The church was and is rudderless.

Some of the devil’s best tricks!  It’s worth reading the entire piece. 

Moral of the story: don’t let the radicals and progressives get to you. Stand up for truth. Support what’s right.  Don’t be cowed, don’t appease and don’t give in!  Keep going and, more than ever, fight the good fight.

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

Luther roseFor past posts on the 2009 ELCA 11th Annual Churchwide Assembly, click here.

Conservative members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America note that the Assembly stopped short of allowing gay marriage to be celebrated in their churches.  However, they believe this will be the next step. 

Many congregations and pastors are considering leaving.  This poses questions about church property, pension plans, insurance and where to go next.  WordAlone, a grassroots network of ELCA congregations and individual members, have compiled a document outlining what people can do if they wish to withdraw from the ELCA. WordAlone founded although is now largely separate from an organisation called Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, which provides resources for congregations at odds with ELCA leadership. 

It’s a sad time indeed when it comes to the following advice, paraphrased from ‘What to Do When … (John 6:68)’, however necessary:

Lay response as a single person with no children: Try to find a suitable Lutheran church, using the resources in Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ. In any event, research the new church well, worship there frequently and interview the pastor.

Lay response as a family with children: Evaluate your current ELCA church on the basis of worship, activities and committees.  Discuss how your current network of friends and church work could change in a new church.  Sunday school, confirmation class and youth groups are important considerations for children.  Parents must live up to their baptismal responsibility when considering their children’s needs.

Pastor deciding to leave the ELCA although his congregation remain: Clearly explain to the congregation what exactly the ELCA has approved in Assembly and the theological and scriptural reasons for your disagreement with the decision.  Co-operate with your bishop and his office with regard to resigning from the ELCA roster.  Work with the bishop’s office, the ELCA Board of Pensions and your lawyer with regard to pension and health care packages as well as personal and professional issues.  Try to find a posting in another Lutheran synod.

Pastor remains in the ELCA and congregation leave:  A pastor who wishes to remain in the ELCA even though his congregation decides to leave it can contact the bishop to arrange for another post in a nearby ELCA church, as mandated by the church constitution.  The synod may also approve a pastor serving in a non-ELCA Lutheran church until he finds another ELCA appointment. 

Pastor retires: In the event a pastor retires provoked by disagreement with an ELCA Assembly decision, his health and pension benefits remain no matter where he chooses to worship.  He may elect to remove his name from the ELCA roster.   

Both congregation and pastor leave the ELCA:  The congregation owns the church land and property, provided they transfer to another Lutheran church body.  ELCA churches which were once part of the LCA or were ELCA mission start-ups should see the WordAlone document for more information, as special circumstances apply.  Congregations wishing to leave the ELCA will need to evaluate and research which Lutheran church body they wish to join.  The document gives helpful suggestions.  [Also see the article below from the Charleston Gazette, which states that the Synod needs to become involved with this type of decision.]

WordAlone emphasises that the document is not definitive nor is it meant to limit the choices ELCA pastors and congregations have.  You can find the document in the Resources section of Churchmouse Campanologist — ‘WordAlone – What to Do When’ — for future reference. 

As non-Lutherans can see, this is serious business, especially considering the ELCA has lost close to 500,000 members since 2001.  The Charleston Gazette (West Virginia) recently featured an article, ‘St Timothy Church at a crossroad‘, examining one ELCA congregation’s reaction to the historic Assembly vote in August (emphasis mine):

St. Timothy’s pastor, the Rev. Richard Mahan, received national attention when The Associated Press quoted him calling homosexuality ‘immoral and perverted’ at the ELCA assembly.

He got more notice after he hung black cloth over the word ‘Lutheran’ on the church’s signs, in protest of the vote …

Bishop Ralph Dunkin of the ELCA’s West Virginia-Maryland Synod plans to meet with Mahan in the next few weeks …

‘I know that Pastor Mahan took the decisions very hard. I think he’s personally hurt,’ he said. ‘I think part of Pastor Mahan’s struggle is, how do we show that we disagree or dissent without leaving? And covering up the sign is one way to do it …’

In Dunkin’s synod, many don’t accept the decision, he said.

‘Our congregations are very conservative,’ he said. ‘I think one of the real divides of our church is that the urban areas have been discussing this for 40 years. This synod’s only been talking about it since 1997.’

Dunkin said the ELCA always has welcomed gays and lesbians. Before the assembly’s vote this month, they could serve as clergy if they took a vow of celibacy …

If St. Timothy or any other church wants to break away, the congregation must vote to do so by a two-thirds majority, according to the ELCA Constitution. Then, church members must meet with Dunkin and take a second vote.

If the church decides to separate, the Synod Council has to grant permission for the congregation to keep its property, according to the ELCA constitution …

Let’s pray for our Lutheran friends in Christ that they may arrive at appropriate spiritual decisions for themselves and their families.  Difficult days lie ahead.

For previous posts on the ELCA’s 11th Annual Churchwide Assembly, click here.

Okay, I’m calling this The Vote.  That’s not an official name, just mine, for the vote on ordaining sexually active, monogamous gays into the ELCA. 

The Assembly took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  This is not generally a locale known for strange weather outside of bone-chilling cold and long winters.  Yet, something unusual happened on Wednesday, August 19, 2009.

At 2 p.m. that day, the Assembly were to convene to discuss the ‘Proposed Statement on Human Sexuality’.  Across the street from the Minneapolis Convention Center is a Lutheran church which the group were using for worship during the Assembly.

John Piper, celebrated in Reformed circles, is a pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.  He takes up the story on his Desiring God blog:

I saw the fast-moving, misshapen, unusually-wide funnel over downtown Minneapolis from Seven Corners. I said … ‘That looks serious.’

It was. Serious in more ways than one. A friend who drove down to see the damage wrote,

On a day when no severe weather was predicted or expected…a tornado forms, baffling the weather experts—most saying they’ve never seen anything like it. It happens right in the city…

The eyewitness of the damage continues:

This curious tornado touches down just south of downtown and follows 35W straight towards the city center. It crosses I94. It is now downtown.    

The time: 2PM.  

The first buildings on the downtown side of I94 are the Minneapolis Convention Center and Central Lutheran. The tornado severely damages the convention center roof, shreds the tents, breaks off the steeple of Central Lutheran, splits what’s left of the steeple in two…and then lifts.

Central Lutheran Church Minneapolis 1964_steeple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central_MPLS_081809_01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me venture an interpretation of this Providence with some biblical warrant.

1. The unrepentant practice of homosexual behavior (like other sins) will exclude a person from the kingdom of God…

2. The church has always embraced those who forsake sexual sin but who still struggle with homosexual desires, rejoicing with them that all our fallen, sinful, disordered lives (all of us, no exceptions) are forgiven if we turn to Christ in faith…

3. Therefore, official church pronouncements that condone the very sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God, are evil. They dishonor God, contradict Scripture, and implicitly promote damnation where salvation is freely offered…

6. Conclusion: The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.

Piper later had to post another entry clarifying what he had said.  I left out the more contentious points 4 and 5 from the original post, which you can read at your leisure.

Yet, tornado or no, it made little difference to the ELCA Assembly.  The Presiding Bishop Mark S Hanson issued the following statement explaining the vote, excerpts of which follow (highlights mine):

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:14-15
 

I write to you from the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis with official information about the actions of this assembly related to human sexuality…

The assembly adopted 676-338 — precisely two-thirds of those voting — “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” the ELCA’s 10th social statement, with minor editorial amendments. It also adopted a series of implementing resolutions with amendments. This theological and teaching document builds on the key Lutheran principles of justification by grace and Christian freedom to serve thy neighbor…

The assembly adopted the resolutions in the following order, beginning with a strong statement about how we will live together in the face of our disagreements:

Resolution 3: “RESOLVED, that in the implementation of any resolutions on ministry policies, the ELCA commit itself to bear one another’s burdens, love the neighbor, and respect the bound consciences of all.” (Adopted 771-230 as amended)

Resolution 1: “RESOLVED, that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships.” (Adopted 619-402)

Resolution 2: “RESOLVED, that the ELCA commit itself to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.” (Adopted 559-451)

Resolution 4: This resolution called upon members to respect the bound consciences of those with whom they disagree; declared intent to allow structured flexibility in decision-making about candidacy and the call process; eliminated the prohibition of rostered service by members in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships; recognized and committed to respect the conviction of members who believe that the ELCA should not call or roster people in committed same-gender relationships; called for development of accountability guidelines; directed that amendments to ministry policy documents be drafted and approved; and stated that this church continue to trust congregations, bishops, synods and others responsible for determining who should be called into public ministry. (Adopted 667-307 as amended) …

But many ELCA members — people in the pews — believe that their consciences and convictions (contrary to the vote) will not be respected when it comes time to getting a new pastor or rostered minister.    

Tomorrow: The aftermath of the ELCA vote

luther-roseFor more on the 2009 ELCA assembly, click here.

On August 20, 2009, ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) members attending the 11th Annual Churchwide Assembly set forth their points of view concerning the upcoming vote on ordaining sexually active gays. 

The following comments are courtesy from a Lutheran at the conference who posted them on Free Republic.  I hope that s/he doesn’t mind if I give you a sample of the sentiment that day.  To read the comments in more detail, along with names and location, please click here.  Emphasis is mine in the following excerpts.

‘The Assembly began with breakfast and “table talk”, small group discussion around tables, and then they convened in plenary.

‘As the public session began, two speakers expressed great concern that following the adoption of the social statement yesterday, there was loud applause and cheers. It was noted that our rules declare this kind of response to be out of order, and the PB [Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson] did nothing to call the assembly to order. The cheers were hurtful to those whose “bound conscience” were sorely wounded. The PB agreed, and apologized for his mistake.’

‘I live and serve within the Episcopal diocese of Ft. Worth, and I’ve seen this train wreck before. The fall out in that diocese of the Episcopal Church’s ministry decisions has been terrible, and I do not want us to see this in our church.’ 

‘I had twin brothers, both gay; one drank himself to death at 31, I think because he could not believe that God loved him. Supporting the rostering of gay and lesbian persons will be a sign, role models in the church who are like them.’

‘The ELCA encouraged me to read the Bible through the Book of Faith initiative. I did that. I have come to a different conclusion than the task force. I understand the pain and anguish of those in same sex relationships; I wish I could support their rostering, but I cannot in good conscience.’ 

‘Many compare this issue to ordination of women or of divorced people. As a divorced woman pastor, I do not believe these are comparable. As to women, there are many passages that speak positively about the leadership roles of women; there are no such passages relative to homosexuality. As to divorce, I am humbly forgiven of my sin. In no way have I tried to define my sin as a good. I agree the passages speaking against homosexuality can be interpreted in a way that sees them as irrelevant to contemporary issues; but the clear witness of Scripture is that God made man and woman for each other.’

‘Is the Holy Spirit calling us to affirm the life choices of our gay/lesbian brothers and sisters? But if the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, why is the Holy Spirit not speaking to our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic, United Methodist, Orthodox, Presbyterian churches? Are they deaf to the Spirit, and we can hear what no one else can hear? We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, and the vast majority of Christians worldwide would not consider what we are being asked to do today.

Then, the Assembly heard written questions and comments, some of which follow:

‘If these are adopted, policies will have to be developed with attention to differences of opinion and respect of the bound conscience. No one will be required to act contrary to their consciences.

‘Missionaries taught us the Bible is the Word of God. Today their descendants are telling us the Bible is not to be read faithfully, but to be changed. Am I to accept church has a new revelation from God? That God is imperfect, he has gained new insight? Who is setting moral standards for the church? The ELCA wants to bring its witness to people of colour. You say you want ethnic diversity, but you pay no attention to us. We have been praying that these recommendations fail.’

‘How can the ELCA compare a few years of study with over 2000 years of Christian tradition? The cross is not a rabbit’s foot to be rubbed like a warm fuzzy. God gave us guidelines to live by. The purpose of the law is prepare us and point us to the gospel.’

‘For the sake of Lutheran unity, we must vote against these resolutions.’

The person typing these up for Free Republic concluded the report by saying, ‘There was a good bit of anger among some on the “traditionalist” side that the “resource people” were given a pretty good block of time during this supposed “open discussion” of the ministry recommendations. The resource people, largely from the task force and the churchwide staff, were perceived (rightly, in my view) as being advocates for the proposed changes, and were generally not held to their time limit by the PB.’

Later on, a Lutheran pastor contributed his parody of ‘Y.M.C.A.‘ to Free Republic.  No, it wasn’t part of the Assembly proceedings.  Here’s an excerpt:

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
You can set yourself free
From dead orthodoxy,
You can do whatever you please.

Luth’ran,
Won’t you please come along
To the Elca,
Where’s there’s no right or wrong.
In the Elca,
Heretics can belong,
They can teach at seminary.

“Luth’ran,”
But our fingers were crossed,
All our doctrine
Has been totally lost.
All that’s Luth’ran
Is what we have embossed
On our cards and stationery
.

Where I grew up, almost all the Lutheran churches are ELCA.  So, if the people there want to stay Lutheran now, they’ll have to drive quite a distance to reach an LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) or a WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) church.  I feel bad for people who might be obliged to change congregations or denominations.  Some did a few years ago.  Some are thinking about it now, but we’ll get to that in a few posts.

Tomorrow: The results of the ELCA Assembly vote

ELCA logo oursaviordaytonorgOn August 17, 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) opened its week-long 11th Annual Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Lutherans in North America will remember the controversy surrounding it for many years to come.

I lived in an area with a lot of Lutherans of Norwegian, Swedish and German heritage. They were serious people.  Their recreation was sport.  Strong drink was abhorred;  ice cream or homemade pie took its place.  Families dined together.  Rules were there to be adhered to, not broken.  Sex was not discussed.  Nor was atheism.  When you were with Lutherans, there were certain things you just did not do or say. 

At that time, the ELCA didn’t exist.  My friends attended congregations that were part of either the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) or the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). 

In 1988, the ELCA came into being.  It represented the merger of the LCA, the American Lutheran Church and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches.  You can read more about their history and that of the LCMS here.    

The LCMS remained true to its conservative confessional roots of the inerrancy of the Bible.  The ELCA is more open and free-thinking and appeals to those who like a flexible theological outlook.  It makes clear that its constitution is a living document which ‘can change and grow’.  The ELCA has 10,500 congregations throughout North America and the Caribbean.

You can get a taste of the ELCA through excerpts of the opening addressMark S Hanson elcaorg 090722_myle1_thm of the Presiding Bishop Mark S Hanson (emphasis mine):    

‘As I think about … the future of the ELCA, I want to reframe my question a bit. Rather than focusing only on “what will be our witness this week,” I invite you to think ahead eight years and ask the question this way: “Looking back from 2017, what do we want our witness to have been?” Why 2017? Some of you already will have guessed: in 2017 Lutherans all over the world will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. 

‘I pray that … by 2017 we will have become more fluent in the first language of faith, the language of Scripture. Oh, friends, never doubt the power of the Holy Spirit to work through one congregation to move an entire church body.

‘Looking back from 2017 let our witness also be that “God’s work, our hands” became much more than our ELCA tag line, for it became a powerful and memorable way for us to communicate not only who we are, but whose we are. “God’s work, our hands.”

‘Last year, I received a gift in Tanzania. It is a hand-carved cross that poignantly captures our witness to God’s work, our hands.  The dove of the Holy Spirit is in the center and is surrounded by hands. It reminds me of three things about our witness: the center of our witness is the cross of Christ; the scope of our witness is the whole world; and the source of our witness is the Holy Spirit. That is why our ELCA tag line, “God’s work, our hands,” belongs with our ELCA emblem: a cross centered within in four quadrants of the globe.

‘Looking back from 2017, let our witness be that every one of the 10,464 ELCA congregations has grown as a center for evangelical mission. That is not a wish. It is a commitment. It is one of the two priorities of the churchwide organization emerging out of the Plan for Mission.

‘Let me be clear. The call for a commitment that every ELCA congregation be a growing center for evangelical mission is not about the survival of a denomination. Rather it is about the Holy Spirit being poured out, bringing renewal in and through us. It is about being who we claim to be: evangelical Lutherans.

‘I must confess to a bit of confusion, if not impatience. There have been warnings that, on the basis of our decisions this week, we could become another denomination declining in membership. Here is your morning wake up call from the presiding bishop: we already are, and we have been for years! The ELCA has had a drop of 465,990 baptized members since I became presiding bishop in 2001. That is a fact for which we must all assume responsibility.

‘May our witness be that we are not all anxiously holding our collective breath over human sexuality. Let our witness be that we breathing in deeply God’s Spirit poured out upon each one of us. We are faithfully and generously using God’s abundant gifts for the sake of the gospel and the life of the world.

‘Looking back from 2017, let our witness be that we have trained 1000 evangelists following the model of many of our global companion churches. One thousand evangelists linked to congregations and sent into communities, listening to neighbors in laundromats, coffee shops, parks, malls, and at their doors and sharing the story of Jesus, inviting people to prayer and Scripture study, and exploring the possibilities for planting a new congregation or ministry related to an established congregation.

Mark S Hanson bathtub elcaorg 090722_open1_thm‘Looking back from 2017, let our witness be clear that in 2009 members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said, “Enough. Enough. Enough of being a 97 percent white church in an increasingly and richly diverse context.” Let us resolve not to pass ethnic ministry strategies at churchwide assemblies and then go home to ministry as usual. Let those of us who are white begin to die to what gives us comfort, power, and privilege so that we might rise to become a Pentecost church.

‘By 2017 let our witness be that each synod has new and renewed ministries that are the results of our ethnic ministry strategies and our commitment to ministry among persons living in poverty. Let our witness be that every synod has a Latino lay formation project on the model already begun by Latino lay leaders, clergy, and scholars.

‘Yes, looking back from 2017 may our witness be that, in the midst of continued economic volatility and uncertainty, ELCA members advocated for public policies, business practices, and personal financial decisions that would first reduce poverty in local communities and throughout the world. Let us as ELCA members model this commitment by our personal stewardship of at least a tithe and also growing in our support of the ELCA World Hunger Appeal.

‘Looking back from 2017 may our witness be that in 2009, members of the ELCA— the vast majority of whom are descendants of a once immigrant people—gave leadership to welcome new migrants into their communities and congregations and were instrumental in the U.S. Congress adopting and President Obama signing fair and just immigration reform.

‘May this be our witness: that ELCA Lutherans—people of the prairies and cities and of mountains and rivers—continue to exercise leadership in the care of God’s creation. No small achievement was the completely green churchwide assembly in 2013, a feat that began in earnest in 2009.

‘May this be our witness: that the development of the social statement on justice for women will be as lively and participatory as the social statement on human sexuality. Let us continue to confront the scandalous reality of sexism in this church and society that too often is manifested in patriarchal power and the marginalization of women and girls.

This is the sort of clergyman who gets on my nerves.  Why?  Because he:

  • denies that the sentiments expressed here might have something to do with the ELCA’s drop of nearly half a million members — no, it’s everyone else’s fault 
  • hates his heritage and wants everyone else to follow suit
  • loves lefty causes
  • focuses on world hunger instead of the unemployment mess in his own country which has led to tent cities — mmm, maybe it’s the wrong demographic
  • wants people to ‘at least’ tithe in these difficult economic times then fritters the money away on things with no relevance to ELCA congregations
  • is a card-carrying member of the Church of Gaia
  • is moaning about nearly non-existent patriarchal power in Christianity but refuses to tackle that problem in other faith groups 

This sets the stage for my next post.

Tomorrow: What happened next at the ELCA Assembly

George Tiller politicocomThe much-publicised Kansas abortionist, George Tiller, was shot and killed yesterday in the vestibule of Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, of which he was a member.

Scott P Roeder, a 51-year old suspect from Merriam, Kansas, has been arrested and is in police custody.  UPI reports:

… Regina Dinwiddie, an anti-abortion activist in Kansas City, Kan., told McClatchy Roeder believed it was justifiable homicide to kill doctors who performed abortions, as Tiller had …

Morris Wilson, an official with the Kansas Unorganized Citizens Militia in the mid-1990s, said Roeder talked often about ‘how awful abortion was’.

‘I’d say he’s a good ol’ boy except he was just so fanatic [sic] about abortion,’ Wilson said.

Roeder was convicted in 1996 and sentenced to 24 months probation after a traffic stop turned up weapons and explosives in his car, McClatchy reported. The conviction was overturned in 1997 when the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled the evidence was obtained through an illegal police search of his car.

Dr Tiller had been in the news for much of the past two decades. Nor was this his first brush with being the target of a shooting.  WND has the full story.

Operation Rescue and Kansans for Life were quick to issue a statement condemning the killing.  Operation Rescue’s website is down as I write this, but WND quotes their statement:

Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller’s family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

Many people online wonder what to make of a church that has an abortionist for a member.  Reformation Lutheran Church is an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America) member congregation.  The ELCA has a left-of-centre outlook, unlike the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod).

Those in doubt over the Christian response to this killing should note the following New Testament verse (Romans 12:19, KJV):

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

For more on Dr Tiller, click here.

 

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