Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CORE: Continuation Of Real Eisegesis

On a November 19 Issues, Etc. segment, Pastor Todd Wilken interviewed Pastor Paull Spring, the Chair of Lutheran Coalition for Renewal, or Lutheran CORE. CORE was formed in response to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Americas’ (ELCA) propensity to “wander away from Lutheran positions,” and specifically to its blessing of same sex unions and the ordination and ministry of clergy who are in active same sex relationships. The intent of CORE is to form a new Lutheran church body.

Here is a portion of the interview:

TW: "Will the new Lutheran church body take a stronger stand on inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture, and what about the ordination of women in the new Lutheran church body?"

PS: "We really, I doubt, I doubt very much if we’ll take a stronger stand on inerrancy of Scripture… Regarding the ordination of women, we fully accept the ordination of women… So for us, I think it’s fair to say, the ordination of women is not going to be an issue for us."

TW: "How would you respond, and this would be my warning there, that the very way of reading the Bible that lead to the ordination of women, could potentially again lead to the ordination of active homosexuals, lesbians, and transectored bisexual?"

PW: "No, I would say, with respect, that the argument for the ordination of women can be Biblically supported. There are references in Scripture to men alone doing ministry, but we also know of the significant role of women in the history of God’s people all the way back to Miriam and even going beyond that, and the witnesses of the resurrection who were initially women. So there is a strong evidence of Biblical support for the ministry of women in the Church, even the ministry of Word and Sacrament. We find no evidence whatsoever in the Bible, no evidence that would in any way endorse a homosexual lifestyle."

I had high hopes for CORE. I really thought this was their chance to correct the un-Scriptural errors that the ELCA has embraced, and was totally crushed by the responses of Pastor Spring. The ELCA has given up on the inerrancy of Scripture, instead believing that the Bible contains the Word of God, rather than that the Bible is the Word of God. Taking this position allows them to rule over the text of the Bible, making it say whatever they’d like in this particular time and sociological underpinning.

Pastor Spring rightly points out that the Bible doesn’t endorse a homosexual lifestyle, yet in the same breath upholds women’s ordination. The same types of arguments that he uses here to defend women’s ordination are also used by those who support homosexual ordination. Both groups ignore the clear words of Scripture in favor of their own interpretation. It’s good that CORE condemns the ELCA’s warm embrace of homosexuality, but its stance on women’s ordination indicates it will continue to follow the erring ways of its soon-to-be former Synod.

“But test everything; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21 ESV

If you’re interested, pasted below are a few of the “highlights” from the ELCA website’s “The Bible” page which demonstrate their low view of Scripture:

Through an ongoing dialogue with the God revealed in the Bible, people in every age are called to a living faith.

…ELCA Lutherans confidently proclaim with all Christians that the authority of the Bible rests in God. We believe that God inspired the Bible’s many writers, editors and compilers. As they heard God speaking and discerned God’s activity in events around them in their own times and places, the Bible’s content took shape. Among other things, the literature they produced includes history, legal code, parables, letters of instruction, persuasion and encouragement, tales of heroism, love poetry and hymns of praise. The varying types and styles of literature found here all testify to faith in a God who acts by personally engaging men and women in human history.

At the same time, we also find in the Bible human emotion, testimony, opinion, cultural limitation and bias. ELCA Lutherans recognize that human testimony and writing are related to and often limited by culture, customs and world view. …Because Biblical writers, editors and compilers were limited by their times and world views, even as we are, the Bible contains material wedded to those times and places. It also means that writers sometimes provide differing and even contradictory views of God’s word, ways and will.

Listening to the living Jesus in the context of the church, we therefore have the task of deciding among these. Having done this listening, we sometimes conclude either that the writer’s culture or personal experience (e.g., subordination of women or keeping of slaves) seems to have prompted his missing what God was saying or doing, or that God now is saying or doing something new.

…The Bible’s reliability lies not in reading it as science or proscription, but as humankind’s chief witness to God, reflecting on faith as it is to be lived. Again, ELCA Lutherans judge all Scripture through the window of God’s chief act — that of entering human flesh in Jesus of Nazareth — and they interpret Scripture by listening to the living Jesus in the context of the Church.

…On several occasions, Martin Luther suggested that not all books of the Bible have the same value for faith formation. Similarly, as in all of life, ELCA Lutherans ask, "Is what we find here consistent with God’s revelation in Jesus?" This is a central question/prescription that provides guidance for acting as moral beings and for calling humankind to justice; it also becomes the authority for our reading Scripture, for it is the Jesus of Scripture, the living Word, who reveals God and judges Scripture, just as he is the judge for all else in life. Therefore, it is a question that ELCA Lutherans find best answered within the life of the Church in community, for this risen Jesus is Lord of the Church.

…To come to the best understanding of a texts meaning, ELCA Lutherans, together with Roman Catholics and most other churches, respect the light shone on Biblical passages by a number of scholarly methods of scriptural study. These are called "criticisms" in that a critical eye uses one of several methods to analyze texts in an attempt to discover their meaning. The term criticism is not to be understood as being critical of the text. In the example of God providing Elijah food, a highly specialized area of research called "textual criticism" would compare the diverse manuscript copies known to exist, as well as other similar ancient translations of the words in question, to determine the more likely meaning.

photo credit: billread


Anonymous said...

Many of us had high hopes for CORE, but, speaking for myself, it was just wishful thinking. When the Historical/Critical method is the only basis for interpreting scripture, then anything goes. Based on the H/C method, it is safe to assume that CORE will continue to downplay Jesus' miracles (there were hidden stones under the water, and the 5,000 had brought bread in their pockets). I too am glad that CORE has seen thru the fallacy of ELCA's recent actions, but we should not expect too much more.


Rev. Jeffrey Ries said...

The reason I never had high hopes for CORE is that no one in the ELCA has ever been concerned about their views on the ordination of women or the use of the Historical Critical method, the infallibility of Scripture, etc . . . their positions on these things have been in place since the ELCA formed. And those positions had been among those who formed her long before that.

Anonymous said...

It piqued my curiosity when I read there may be a new Lutheran synod. Sorry to hear it's going to go down nearly the same path as the other. Has it occurred to anybody to form a new Lutheran synod of conservative, confessional, and dare I say 'traditional' lutherans? As a lifelong member of the WELS, it has saddened me to watch in recent years as church growth methods have infiltrated our churches as well. Between the good folks in both our synod and the LCMS, and possibly a few even in the ELCA who might see the light, I would love to see movement in that direction. Just wishful thinking...
Keep up the good work, Pastor Diekmann.

Scott Diekmann said...

There has been some effort to form other confessional Lutheran church bodies, one example of which is the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America, or ELDoNA, http://www.eldona.org/. I commend them for their efforts. Satan is patient. He instigates little changes here and there, that over decades aren't noticed, but which transform formerly confessional church bodies to bodies that snub their nose at doctrine. We need pastors and laymen who will stand up and fight against the continuation of the "anything goes" attitude that we now often see.

I'm not a pastor Anonymous, rather, a concerned layman who wants to hold on to the catholic Church teachings.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should see this as a good opportunity to examine your own assumptions about women's ordination not being biblical. Here is a large group of Lutherans who stand up for the authority of scripture, but who reject the notion that this precludes women's ordination. This is the reason why you will not find many defecting to the LCMS. I think it shows the difference between fundamentalism and Evangelicalism in the classical sense.

Scott Diekmann said...

Thanks for your comment Anonymous. I don't make assumptions anonymous, and I've already studied it. Women's ordination is clearly prohibited by Scripture. A good book to read on the subject is the collection of essays contained in Women Pastors? The Ordination of Women in Biblical Lutheran Perspective, edited by Pastors Matt Harrison and John Pless. I'd also caution against letting your determination of doctrine be swayed by what a "large group" believes.

Anonymous said...

Could you or Issues, Etc. post a similar analysis of the LCMC.

The LCMC will argue ad nauseam that as an organization, it is structurally different than the "hierarchical" ELCA, but I am interested in theological differences and not in differences in church administration/synodical structure.

If CORE and the LCMC share the same theology as the ELCA (minus the warm embrace of homosexuality), then both organizations are doomed.

Northern Born Southerner said...

I am currently an ELCA pastor that is involved with CORE and the ignorance of this is troublesome. CORE formed in an effort to reform the ELCA and is moving toward renewal of the Lutheran Church in North America. The view of Scripture in CORE is one that it is the inerrant Word of God and is seen as the norm of faith and life. The issue of women's ordination is one that holds no parallel to the sexuality argument and historical criticism is not meant to deconstruct scripture, but can deepen the scripture if used with the mindset that the Bible is the Word of God. It seems to me that you have not studied Luther well or his life to understand confessional Lutheranism. Women have held leadership positions throughout the OT and the NT along with historical records that would back up the same assertions. Luther was very controversial in his day when he willed his entire estate to his wife, Katie, which was upheld only because of the respect that the Elector had for him. LCMS has their own issues, though I respect much of their stances, except on closed communion and on women in leadership. There is also a difference between allowing Scripture to interpret you and making the Word of God into an idol. Luther also argued against making the Bible a paper pope. Luther believed in the inerrancy of Scripture, however his understanding does not fit the strict fundamentalist inerrancy that you seem to espouse.

The problem with many in this day is that the movement is either to a rigid literalism or a rigid literary-ism, which does not reflect the both.and of Luther. Luther left tension and your stance seems much more crypto-Calvinist than it does Lutheran. Read the Confessions along with Luther's writings. You will find that Paull Spring and most of us in CORE are very confessional and willing to stand for the principles that Chemnitz and others fought for in the decades following Luther's death. Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum, the Word of the Lord endures forever.

Scott Diekmann said...

"Women have held leadership positions throughout the OT and the NT along with historical records that would back up the same assertions." True, women have held leadership positions. Also true that women have not been pastors, with a few exceptions, throughout the history of the Church. I haven't found anywhere where Luther advocated women pastors.

Anonymous said...

What would Luther say about the ELCA adopting full communion with the Methodists, or with any non-Lutheran church body. Can someone help me find an essay written by Luther that strongly condemns such agreements. Would those who profess to be "confessional" Lutherans be for, or against. Would Luther have us "pick and choose" what we believe across denominations. Would we still be considered "Lutheran" if we did.

Are CORE and LCMC in agreement with this decision. If so, then how can they be considered confessional Lutheran bodies:


Anonymous said...

But wasn’t the issue of scriptural inerrancy the cause for so many problems within the ELCA. Do many ELCA church members realize that CORE and LCMC are, theologically speaking, the ELCA minus gay clergy. If they knew, then would these hopeful ELCA churchgoers still be eager to join CORE or LCMC?

Scott Diekmann said...

Worth a read: The paper of Prof. John Pless titled "The Ordination of Women and Ecclesial Endorsement of Homosexuality: Are They
Related?," available here:

Worth a listen: Dr. Al Collver's appearance on Issues, Etc. discussing the relationship between the ordination of women and the ordination of homosexuals: