It has been several years now since the formation of the Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (ACELC). For a detailed account of the formation of the ACELC please see the essay, “ Barking Dogs and a Three-Legged Hog.” Since that time (2010) we now have 24 congregational members (literally from coast to coast), 74 associate members, and 204 signers to our Fraternal Admonition. When our Fraternal Admonition was mailed to every congregation in the LCMS, some questioned our motives, some cried foul, some saw the letter as a political maneuver, and some actually took the time to read our documents and seriously consider the effort we were undertaking. I am very thankful for the latter.
In spite of all our efforts these past several years, some are still asking, “What is the ACELC?” and more importantly, “Why is the ACELC?” I would like to offer here a very brief overview. The ACELC is a grassroots effort of concerned LCMS congregations and individuals (patterned after President Harrison’s “It’s Time”) to fraternally identify errors of doctrine and practice in our midst with the goal of godly repentance and unity in Christ. We are not a “shadow synod” and have no ecclesiastical authority; we rest all our efforts on God’s Word and trust its power and authority to change hearts and bring about true unity (Ephesians 4). All of our efforts are above board and available on our web site for review and critique; we have nothing to hide.
We have worked “within the system” where we could, and have only gone outside the current polity of synod when we felt we must because of doctrinal concerns (please see our Error Document, Point 10 – found at the top of page #10). We have met with various synodical officials, including President Harrison, shared all our documents with the Presidium, and through them all District Presidents, filed three official dissents with the CTCR, and asked for a Gütachten from the four North American seminaries on the Council of President’s document, “The Divine Deposal/Dismissal of Ministers of the Word and Sacraments.” Some of these efforts have been well received and others have been completely ignored; regardless, we continue to make every effort to make the good confession.
We are just days away from our Fourth annual free conference. We have identified 10 serious errors that are being tolerated among us, and are addressing them, individually, through theological free conferences and follow up materials. I ask you, is there anyone else in our synod that is doing this? In this respect, the ACELC is seriously working through the difficult issues that are dividing our fellowship, with the goal of true koinonia. For more on that thought see the essay “ Koinoia in Lutheranism.”
It’s not too late to attend our conference in Cedar Falls, Iowa next week. Whether you are able to attend or not, I invite you to check out our work. Examine our documents and efforts with a critical eye and offer comments and suggestions to help us make our confession the best that it can be. I also invite you to consider joining our efforts to work together, under God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions, so that forgiveness, life, and salvation would once again flourish among us.
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point. (Martin Luther – Luther’s Works, Weimar Edition. Briefwechsel [Correspondence]. vol 3, pp. 81ff.)
Rev. Clint K. Poppe