Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Necessary Divorce

Last July President Matt Harrison released a letter to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod announcing that the LCMS was parting ways in its previous joint cooperation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in military chaplaincy. A portion of the letter reads:
Today, like two ships at sea sailing apart on different compass headings, the ELCA and the LCMS have lost sight of each other. The two churches are pursuing different courses in our ministries to military members. The doctrinal differences and tensions have been exacerbated by the position of the ELCA on same-sex unions and the imminent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In addition, the ELCA has made its direction clear by the mutual decision between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA) to hold joint denominational training conferences together beginning in 2012.

After thorough examination by the LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces committee (MAF) of all pertinent cooperative ministry issues among military chaplains and with input from all LCMS chaplains now serving on active and reserve duty, I am announcing today that the past cooperative working arrangement between our two church bodies with respect to the military chaplaincy can no longer be supported. Beginning in 2012, and for the foreseeable future, the LCMS will conduct its chaplain training conferences unilaterally.
The wisdom of that move was fully illustrated recently when an Air Force airman and his gay partner were united in a civil ceremony on an U.S. military base by ELCA chaplain Kay Reeb. According to the Associated Press article,
Reeb, who had never presided over a civil union ceremony before, said she was delighted to take part.

“I told them the same thing I tell every couple — love each other and trust in each other and in God, that’s what keeps us together,” [s]he said.
Her remarks illustrate the chasm that exists between the ELCA and the truth of the Gospel. The ELCA abandoned sola Scriptura a long while ago, instead clinging to a man-made gospel. This chaplain’s failure to heed Scripture has led her to ignore the sin of homosexuality. Instead of lovingly counseling these two people that what they are doing is a sin in God’s eyes and calling them to repentance and forgiveness, she has condoned their behavior and put their spiritual well-being at risk.

I pray that every synod, including our own, would examine their own beliefs and practices to make sure they preach the full measure of God’s Word. Preaching that homosexuality is a sin is not a popular message. It is not an easy thing to do for a servant of the Word to point out someone else's sin, especially when they are sinners as well, yet it is what God calls His shepherds to do. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”   2 Timothy 4:1-4 ESV

HT: Chris Johnson


Anonymous said...

After much debate, the 2001 Convention passed a resolution which said, in part, that "The ELCA is no longer an orthodox church body." It took another 11 years for someone to own up to that fact and take action.

Read "What's Going on Among the Lutherans" for the whole picture. Things have gone downhill since it was written in 1992.

Very sad

Joe Strieter

Anonymous said...

I remain amazed that most disaffected ELCA'ers have joined the LCMC and the NALC. If the "gay issue" was the only thing that prevented ELCA members from leaving their church, then it is logical to assume that the LCMC and the NALC are the ELCA minus homosexuality.

Do you think the NALC and the LCMC are slowly drifting towards confessional Lutheranism? Their doctrines remain in flux, correct? How many more years will it take before both splinter groups discard Historical Criticism and Women's ordination?

I am also confused how an ELCA congregation in the middle of extremely conservative Illinois and Iowa can remain in the ELCA.

Scott Diekmann said...

It seems that both LCMC and NALC have a higher regard for Scripture than does the ELCA. Their continued ordination of women is problematic. Many people believe that women's ordination and the embrace of homosexuality issue from the same root theological problems. With that it mind, it's difficult to say if either of these groups is drifting towards confessional Lutheranism. There have been very few Lutheran church bodies that have backpedaled from women's ordination, although it's possible.