Question from a BJS reader

April 30th, 2011 Post by

This question came in from a loyal BJS reader:

I was dismayed to see that the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches (http://www.downtownlutheranchurches.org) has both LCMS and ELCA congregations. They are having a conference this weekend at First Lutheran Church of Pasadena, California.

Speakers in John Nunes, Greg Seltz and Lee Settgast from the LCMS, a couple of guys from Fuller Seminary and ELCA Southwest Synod Bishop Nelson. I don’t know why the Fuller guys or the ELCA bishop was invited. Bishop Nelson is pictured at http://www.matthewchurch.com/pages/prideparade.html participating in a Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood in 2009 and he apparently participated last year as well.

While I’m curious about why this is going on, I’m not going to pay the $125 conference fee to find out.

From Downtown Lutheran Churches.org:

NEXT GATHERING

The fifth gathering of the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches will be held at Historic First Lutheran Church of Pasadena, California from Friday 29 April through Monday 2 May 2011. Registration fee is $125.00 for the first participant, with a discounted $75.00 per person rate for additional participants from the same congregation registering on the same form. Those fees include all meals.

Presenters include Reverend Dr. John Arthur Nunes from Lutheran World Relief of Baltimore, Dr. Mark Lau Branson and Graduate Student Matthew Rosebrock from Fuller Seminary, Reverend Greg Seltz from Concordia University Irvine, and Reverend Bishop Dean Nelson from The Southwest California Synod of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Formal registration packets, including airline, ground transportation and hotel information, will be snail mailed by 1 February 2011. In addition, registration information will soon be available for download at downtownlutheranchurches.org .






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  1. Carl Vehse
    April 30th, 2011 at 11:11 | #1

    You can tell the loyal BJS reader to relax. Dr. Nunes, Concordia-Irvine Theology Professor Seltz, and other synodical members are participating in this Koinoniaklatch as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to share in a powerful exchange and interchange of mission and ministry with the Downtown organization of Lutheran and Lufauxran churches.

    This is as of little concern as… oh, say, hypothetically speaking, if a synodical university were to hold a homosexual education event on campus, or a LCMS District convocation were to invite a radical feminist professor to compare LCMS doctrinal leadership to that of Islamoterrorists.

  2. April 30th, 2011 at 11:15 | #2

    Carl,

    Very well said.

    COL (chuckling out loud) :)

    TR

  3. April 30th, 2011 at 13:05 | #3

    teh commishn on constitushunl matterz haz spokn!

    There are also ‘once-in-a-life-time’ situations. It is virtually impossible to anticipate all such situations or to establish rules in advance. Specific answers cannot be given to cover every type of situation pastors and congregations face. These situations can be evaluated only on a case-by-case basis and may evoke different responses from different pastors who may be equally committed to LCMS fellowship principles. (“Application of 2001 Resolution 3-07A” [02-2294], LCMS Commission on Constitutional Matters, January 20-21, 2003.)

    wonce in a lifetime!

  4. John
    April 30th, 2011 at 16:54 | #4

    How is participation in an ecumenical conference equivalent to unionism?

  5. Carl Vehse
    April 30th, 2011 at 18:11 | #5

    tomato, tomahto.

  6. John
    April 30th, 2011 at 18:12 | #6

    As I watched the 60 Minutes report on the monastaries at Mt. Athos, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-20056220-10391709.html?tag=cbsnewsMainColumnArea.1, I had two strong and contradictory reactions. On the one hand, I was impressed by the dedication of the monks in their singular commitment to a life prayer, seeking to get a little closer to Christ each day. On the other hand, I was impressed that asceticism can’t be the pathway to Christ because the focus is self-serving. We are not called to set ourselves apart from the world for the sake of our own spiritual welfare. Instead, we are called to engage the world – to be the physical presence of our Lord in the various places where our Lord has found us. If we desire to get closer to Christ, perhaps the better path is to seek our Saviour in the face of those who need the love of Christ in their lives.

    We live in a messy world. And, living faithfully in this world sometimes means that we have to get our hands dirty. Downtown congregations in large urban centers are situated in the middle of very difficult mission fields. The mission statement of the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churchs makes it clear that this is a group of churches who are committed to supporting one another. It is reasonable to think they need all the support they can get.

    So, what’s the fuss?

  7. Rev. Steven W Bohler
    April 30th, 2011 at 20:23 | #7

    It’s not just churches in large metro areas that are invited to these things. I get invites and our town has less than 8,000 residents.

  8. helen
    April 30th, 2011 at 20:41 | #8

    @John #6
    So, what’s the fuss?

    To participate is to say that we regard the —a as a Lutheran church.
    [Didn't the convention pass a resolution saying we did not?]

    So when you tell an acquaintance you are a Lutheran, they think of the church body that gets all the publicity and bracket you with women in the pulpit and gay clergy.

    I would rather put some distance between the two groups, even if most of my relatives are in the other one. :(

  9. mames
    April 30th, 2011 at 22:15 | #9

    @Carl Vehse #1 This kind of open unionism needs to be directly disciplined and now. Fuller and ELCA are apostate bodies and any support is unacceptable. Removal from our professional roster is needed asap. We cannot accept this kind of “I dare you…in your face” behavior.

  10. STEVEN BOBB
    April 30th, 2011 at 22:49 | #10

    Well, only 2 presenters aren’t LC-MS (one ELCA and the Presbyterian) and only LC-MS clergy are listed as leading the worship, so really, any non-LC-MS persons would be wordshiping with US not us with THEM. Kinda like when non-LC-MS persons show up on any given Sunday or Christmas or Easter. Kinda, huh?!?! Maybe?!? putting the best construction on it???? Maybe???

  11. May 1st, 2011 at 00:27 | #11

    Steven,

    I don’t think it’s unionism. It is, however, incomprehensible to have the ELCA Bishop to speak at the event. Why is it necessary?

    TW

  12. John
    May 1st, 2011 at 08:33 | #12

    Todd Wilken :
    Steven,
    I don’t think it’s unionism. It is, however, incomprehensible to have the ELCA Bishop to speak at the event. Why is it necessary?
    TW

    If it is not unionism, why is it incomprehensible to have the ELCA Bishop speak at the event? And, if it is incomprehensible to have thee Bishop speak, why is it comprehensible to have the Fuller seminarian speak?

  13. helen
    May 1st, 2011 at 11:25 | #13

    @John #12
    why is it comprehensible to have the Fuller seminarian speak?

    It’s not.

    Next question: What about the “Fuller graduates” in our pulpits?
    Unionism? Syncretism?
    What would Walther say? Or Luther?

  14. May 1st, 2011 at 15:02 | #14

    John,

    We would do better to cooperate in externals with Fuller-types or even non-Christians than with those who mock the Word of God under the guise of Christianity.

    TW

  15. May 1st, 2011 at 15:06 | #15

    Helen,

    Is the Fuller guy preaching at this event? I thought he was speaking at the conference, not preaching. As I said, it is one thing to cooperate in externals (which appears to be the case here) with other Christians, or even non-Christians. It is quite another to invite a false brother (someone who claims to be a Christian, but mocks God’s Word) to such an event.

    TW

  16. John
    May 1st, 2011 at 17:32 | #16

    Todd Wilken :
    John,
    We would do better to cooperate in externals with Fuller-types or even non-Christians than with those who mock the Word of God under the guise of Christianity.
    TW

    Todd – I think it is fair to assume that the ELCA Bishop in question has less confidence in the inerrancy and infallibility of his interpretations of Scripture than do you. But, I do not think it is fair to equate that lack of confidence with mocking the Word of God.

  17. Carl Vehse
    May 1st, 2011 at 19:05 | #17

    The Downtown, Issue #7– Jan. 2010 newsletter describes the previous conference held in October, 2009:

    “In October, a small group of us (14 people, representing 8 ministries from both the ELCA and LCMS) gathered for a wonderful weekend of fellowship, learning and worship at Historic Trinity Church in St. Louis. Each participant was able to explain to the group his or her particular ministry. In addition, resource information (newsletters, bulletins, historical booklets) was exchanged freely.

    “We were blessed by insightful presentations by Dr. Tom Zehnder, Executive Director of LCMS World Mission; Dr. Tony Cook of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; and Rev. David Birner, Associate Executive Director for International Missions, LCMS World Mission. Worship experiences on Saturday evening and Sunday morning were enjoyed at both Historic Trinity Church and at Vintage 10, Historic Trinity’s satellite location in the downtown loft district.”

    Historic Trinity’s contemporary music worship mission is described in the Downtown, Issue #8 – March, 2010 newsletter:

    To meet the spiritual needs of those new inhabitants of downtown St. Louis, Historic Trinity founded “Vintage 10,” a second-site ministry about 10 minutes from Historic Trinity, in the very heart of the loft district. The “Vintage 10? ministry, led by Historic Trinity’s Associate Pastor, Rev. Jason Rust, moved on All Saints’ Day 2009 into its first permanent worship location, located under a newly opened wine bar. A unique partnership was effected between Historic Trinity and the wine bar owner, which provided some financing to the owner through a loan secured from the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF). “Vintage 10? is distinctively contemporary in its approach to worship and ministry, while retaining historic Christianity (thus the name “Vintage”). “Vintage 10? worshipers are definitely post-modern in their thinking.

  18. May 1st, 2011 at 19:38 | #18

    @John #16

    John,

    You wrote,

    I think it is fair to assume that the ELCA Bishop in question has less confidence in the inerrancy and infallibility of his interpretations of Scripture than do you. But, I do not think it is fair to equate that lack of confidence with mocking the Word of God.

    The ELCA Bishop has less confidence in the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture itself. So little, in fact, that he completely disregards the clear teaching of the Old and New Testaments on homosexuality, and publicly promotes homosexuality.

    I would call that mocking the Word of God.

    TW

  19. mames
    May 1st, 2011 at 21:22 | #19

    @Todd Wilken #18 Of course it is and blatantly so. These historical critical, Jesus seminar “scholars” do not consider the Bible God’s Word at all. They are wolves in sheep clothing. One wonders why they even bother to call themselves Christian or maybe they need to to justify their salaries to their willfully ignorant followers. “It is better to have never known ……………………….

  20. John
    May 2nd, 2011 at 05:57 | #20

    @Todd Wilken #18
    Todd – I suspect that the Bishop is as confident as you that Holy Scripture is the inspired Word of God.

    Putting the best construction on everything, I think it is fair to conclude that the Bishop believes that God loves the homosexual; that God’s promise of forgiveness and salvation is just as real for the homosexual as it is for you and me; and, that our society ought to treat the homosexual with dignity and respect, just as every person in our society ought to be treated with dignity and respect – and just as our Lord treated with dignity and respect those who were defined as outcast by those who deemed themselves good enough to be worthy of God’s attention.

    Your conclusion ignores Scripture’s clear teaching regarding the distinction between sinner and sin. Unless you have fully discussed the matter with the Bishop (and, I presume that you have not), you have no legitimate basis for concluding that he is either disregarding Scripture nor is he promoting homosexuality.

  21. David Moseley
    May 2nd, 2011 at 07:02 | #21

    @John #20

    The Bishop is disregarding Holy Scripture when he approves of homosexual marriage;something that is completley contrary to Holy Scripture.

  22. May 2nd, 2011 at 09:53 | #22

    John,

    Have you looked here?

    TW

  23. John
    May 2nd, 2011 at 11:07 | #23

    @Todd Wilken #22
    Todd – I conclude from that site that St. Matthews, as I posted above, is willing to treat with dignity and respect those who are defined as outcast by those who deem themselves good enough to be worthy of God’s attention. And, Scripture clearly teaches that our Lord did likewise.

    What do you conclude from that site.

  24. May 2nd, 2011 at 12:55 | #24

    @John #23

    John,

    I conclude that an ELCA bishop participating in a gay pride parade clearly sends the message that he intends to (with the August 2009 ELCA General assembly) “recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships.”

    This would be a fair conclusion given the bishop’s July 2010 participation in a “rite of reception” that formally received as ELCA pastors six practicing gay, lesbian or transgender persons (Paul Brenner, Jeff Johnson, Craig Minich, Dawn Roginski, Megan Rohrer and Sharon Stalkfleet) at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco.

    TW

  25. John
    May 2nd, 2011 at 13:09 | #25

    @Todd Wilken #24
    Todd – and I conclude that there is a difference between a church that proclaims it welcomes sinners and a church that proclaims it welcomes those who no longer sin. The latter would have empty pews and no one to stand in the pulpit to proclaim the welcome message.

  26. Rev. David Mueller
    May 2nd, 2011 at 13:27 | #26

    @John #25
    But the obvious problem with what you wrote, John, is that the ELCA *doesn’t* welcome sinners anymore (at least in regards to homosexuality), because it doesn’t recognize homosexuality as *sin* anymore. At our churches, otoh, I would *hope* we are quite welcoming of sinners of all stripes, for here we sinners will learn of our sin, and be forgiven in Christ’s blood, for all of it.

    the only way in which I am “worthy” of God’s attention is that I am a damned sinner, in absolute need of His Mercy in Christ. The ELCA, on its “official” level, at least, has been busily trying to get rid of the concept of sin for its entire quarter-decade history.

    John, honestly, have you ever studied logic? You persist in such totally illogical statements.

  27. May 2nd, 2011 at 13:54 | #27

    @John #25

    John,

    Do you really believe that the ELCA’s affirmation and advocacy of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered behavior is “welcoming sinners”?

    Do you really believe that a church that calls all sinners to repent (including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered sinners) is saying that no one is welcome until they stop sinning?

    TW

  28. Rev. Steve Bagnall
    May 3rd, 2011 at 09:53 | #28

    Jesus has bestowed upon the church TWO keys, the loosing key and the binding key. Any pastor who does not employ both is unfaithful and unfit for the office. He despises the word of God and runs the risk of becoming the one described by our Lord as being better off drowned in the sea with a millstone around his neck.

    NEVER did Jesus celebrate with pride the sin of the sinners He ate and drank with. The work of the Lord is to call sinners to repentance, not to coddle and comfort them in their sin.

    The accusation that anyone here has suggested that church is for those who have stopped sinning is FAR more “unloving” (because its a lie) than telling a sinner that he needs to repent or hell awaits, but that the Lord of Life calls Him to eternal salvation through faith in Him.

  29. helen
    May 3rd, 2011 at 12:03 | #29

    @John #20
    @Todd Wilken #18
    Todd – I suspect that the Bishop is as confident as you that Holy Scripture is the inspired Word of God.

    Your “suspicions” are highly doubtful, John, since “higher criticism” has been the practice of the elca for at least 30 years. Also, my cousin’s husband, an elc/elca pastor, wondered why I believed in things like the early chapters of Genesis and Jonah about that long ago. Things have not gotten more orthodox in that church body since then.

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