Pastor Matt Harrison reacts to ELCA’s decisions.


Late Friday afternoon Rev. Todd Wilken did an  interview with Rev. Matthew Harrison, Executive Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care for the purpose of getting his reaction to the ELCA’s action on homosexuality this week at their Churchwide Assembly.    It isn’t yet available on the Issues Etc. website but we wanted to make it available to our readers.

Matt Harrison is being nominated by numerous congregations for LCMS president and it is not hard to understand why  based on his  humble but firm reaction to the ELCA’s decisions.



About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Pastor Matt Harrison reacts to ELCA’s decisions. — 18 Comments

  1. Rev. Harrison calls the action of the ELCA an apostasy (i.e. the renunciation of a religious faith). Good for him. A bit different than what President Kieschnick said.


  2. Listening to him, broke my heart. I pray for Pastor Harrison, and the weight he now bears, and will if elected.

  3. Pastor Harrison’s comments were what the ELCA needed to hear this morning from the LCMS. I truly pray that at least some of their pastorate and laypeople had a chance to listen just as many of us have heard them. Not only has Pastor Harrison rightly called the ELCA’s decisions this week apostasy, He also spoke clearly on the posture that all Confessional Lutherans do well to have. That is a deep sadness with regard to the direction the ELCA is taking and repentance. For, even amid the confusing times and decisions in which we live, our Lord Jesus Christ still holds out His Word of Life, that all who do repent of their sin receive His free, undeserved, unmerited forgiveness.

    It is not by reason or strentgth of ours, nor by any might, power, or decision of ours, but because of the Holy Spirit that the true Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord. How tragic it is that the ELCA has left that Foundation in order to build another. (Heb. 6:1-6)

    Pastor Harrison recalls us once again to that which norms us, the Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions whose solid truth trumps the error of convenience.

  4. I have to say, I love Pastor Harrison. Even as his words deliver a clear, strong message to the E_CA and her members, they provide comfort to me and all those grieving at this time for the catholic church.
    God bless you sir.

  5. Pastor Harrison is always right on.

    I’ve watched the UPCUSA go down the tubes, and now the Episcopal church and the ELCA, and in all cases these have seem to have been led (to my little lamb eyes) by the top. That is to say, it seems always to be that those least amenable to true doctrine seem to rise to the top of national church organizations.

    Or perhaps it is that what’s really going on is that those at the top are reflective of life in the common congregations?

    Are national church bodies a menace to the church? Might the baptists have this right?

  6. I humbly come to you as a member of an ELCA church and a strong supporter of the actions taken by the ELCA at its Churchwide Assembly. I found this page while scanning the web for reactions to our decisions.

    I’m not here to debate doctrine or the Bible. I don’t want to try to convince anybody that the ELCA was correct or that Pastor Harrison or anybody else is wrong.

    I simply want to comment on how sad I am when I hear comments such as Pastor Harrison’s. I fully expected to hear that he disagreed. Disagreement is fine; after all, there wouldn’t be separate flavors of Lutheranism if we didn’t have disagreements. What I didn’t expect is the level of condemnation. When you start tossing words like “apostasy” around aren’t you starting to get into God’s domain? Why not talk about what you believe instead of so harshly condemning the sincerely held beliefs of others?

    I’m sure that some ELCA members and even churches will decide that they are more comfortable in the LCMS. I sincerely hope that you will welcome them with love and that they will be happy. Moreover I hope that in the end we can always meet at the foot of the cross, no matter what our differences.


  7. Friend from the ELCA,

    If you wouldn’t call the ELCA’s actions “apostacy,” what would you call them?


  8. Friend from the ELCA,

    What will we find if we meet at the foot of the cross? The Bible says that there we will find the blood of Christ that has been given to forgive the sins of the world. Do you believe that?

    I heard a lot of ELCA delegates mispeak about this at your Assembly. They describe life at the foot of the cross as a struggle over the confusing issues of the day, e.g. “is homosexuality a sin?” Is that what you find at the foot of the cross, confusion and moral struggle?


  9. Another important point that Pastor Harrison makes — the original languages have no longer been taught in the ELCA seminaries in the last 40 years; we in the LCMS are starting down the same path in our attempt to make it easier to place pastors in our churches.

    Once clergy no longer have the clarity to know the original language, to know what the text says, know the precise principles for interpreting the text, … without the original laguages, the retched dregs of pietism, whether liberal or conservative, take over and feelings get in the way, and sentiment drives the church.

  10. >>When you start tossing words like “apostasy” around aren’t you starting to get into God’s domain?

    Yes. God’s domain is His very own Word. When we deny his Word, we are apostate. This is not a matter of merely the homosexuality debate. This is a matter of all sins, and all catholic doctrine. If we shall ever confess anything at all as theology, then we are “speaking as one” God’s Word – this is to speak in his domain.

    To confess that we cannot speak for God where God has spoken is the surest sign that one has not any flavor of Lutheranism, but a flavor of the wisdom of men.

    My God grant you clear sight from the foot of the cross through the Words left us by the man who hung there for our sakes.

  11. Friend from the ELCA,

    You wrote,
    “I simply want to comment on how sad I am when I hear comments such as Pastor Harrison’s. I fully expected to hear that he disagreed. Disagreement is fine; after all, there wouldn’t be separate flavors of Lutheranism if we didn’t have disagreements. What I didn’t expect is the level of condemnation. When you start tossing words like “apostasy” around aren’t you starting to get into God’s domain? Why not talk about what you believe instead of so harshly condemning the sincerely held beliefs of others?”

    Rev. Harrison was very sorrowful and repentant over the apostasy of the ELCA as well as his own sinfulness and the sins of the members of his own synod. I would call his charge of apostasy a call to repentance, not condemnation. God is the only one who can condemn and Rev. Harrison knows that far better than most of us.

    When you reject the word of God and the faith passed down through the Christian Church, what else do you call it but apostasy? The ELCA may have at one time been Lutheran, but it has changed to join with Methodists, secular humanists and others who hold false beliefs about Jesus. Its members are apostate no matter how sincerely they hold those beliefs.

    Please consider this a call to repentance, not condemnation, for I am a sinner just like you in need of repentance and the gift of the forgiveness of sins won on the cross by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  12. The ELCA convention and our ELCA friend above both think sincerity of belief ( -or a conscience being bound by some belief- ) is all the justification needed to deflect criticism of the apostasy and unfaithfulness to the Lord demonstrated by these actions. This post modern attitude cannot accept the proposition that there is any objective truth. Ultimately anything goes if the belief is sincere. How different from Christ, who says, that not one jot or tittle (the smallest marks of Hebrew writing) will pass away until all is fulfilled. This includes the multitude of texts in Scripture that condemn sins including homosexuality, approval of the open sins by spiritual leaders, and apostasy. God help us all to repent and weep between the porch and the altar and cry out to God that He might spare his people (Joel 2:17). Or will we turn our back on the Lord as Ezekiel saw happening in his day (Ezekiel 8:16)?

  13. Dear Friend from the ELCA–You have framed your comments in the light of disagreement. It isn’t just a matter of disagreement. Luther’s 95 theses and all that followed were not a matter of mere disagreement, or just his opinion. This goes far beyond opinion, feelings, and disagreement. Luther took his stand on Scripture, and that is where Pr. Harrison and others take their stand. Sadly, the decisions made at the ELCA Assembly were not made on the basis of Scripture, but on the basis of opinions and feelings. Scripture no longer carried much weight. If Scripture is no longer normative, then anything can be justified. “Apostasy” may not seem a very “nice” word, but it speaks the truth in love. It needed to be said.

  14. The problem is that these scoundrels, devils really, don’t believe the Bible in the first place! They malign and undermine the Scriptures at every opportunity. They deny the physical resurrection, they don’t believe in the virgin birth, they profess that EVERYONE will be saved, (universalism). The list goes on and on. One heresy leads to another. You would have to be living on another planet to not be able to recognize that we are living in an era of accelerating apostasy. As a former lifelong Lutheran, having recently decided to move on, my advice is to read the Bible and cut out the middle man. May God bless all the faithful Ltherans that are having to struggle with this blow.

  15. For denominations like the ELCA, theology has become a mattter of taste and not of truth (to borrow from Mortimer Adler). It’s painful to watch as churches accomodate themselves to the moral relativism of the larger culture. The very notion of “truth” is exclusive. It’s much more appealing and “civil” to assume that God’s truths are matters of personal taste and not objective truth. This tends to lead to a “democratization” of the value of opinions. Opinions are of equal worth, because everybody has a “right” to his or her own opinion, right? Wrong. Better a difficult truth spoken in love, than an “inclusive” falsehood spoken in misguided sincerity. It’s a time for all of us to pray for the church universal.

  16. I wonder what Pastor Harrison’s comment would be on the hatred and vitriol being expressed here about our Christian Brothers? The scriptures are pretty clear about how God feels about these types of expressions.

    1 John 2:9, “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.”

  17. @Paul Amann #17

    It appears that Pastor Harrison is simply fulfilling the words of 2 Timothy 4 below.

    1 I solemnly 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 : 2 preach the word ; be ready in season and out of season ; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

    You call it vitriol and hatred, and sadly, cannot see that the comments are intended in love to draw those in error (the ELCA) back to the truth of the Scriptures. Pr. Harrison is simply reproving, rebuking and exhorting, as Paul says he should. However, just like children who reject and misunderstand a parents’ love and admonition, you – and the ELCA – cannot see this. That is what is sad. It is similar to a person who rejects Christ; they cannot see where they are headed.

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