Differences between the ELCA and LCMS, with links, being updated

July 30th, 2012 Post by

A few years back I took on the task of researching the official beliefs of the ELCA and comparing them to official beliefs of the LCMS.  I went through their websites and tried to cite literally and reference where things were found.  This was very helpful in dealing with folks leaving the ELCA for the LCMS during the exodus from the ELCA after their horrid affirmation of sin in their 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

Recently, the project has been resurrected by Pr. Donavon Riley, who is working on updating the links.  He posted this on his blog “The First Premise”.  You can view it here.

After watching the video of President Harrison answering questions at the Northwest District’s Convention, it is great that Pr. Riley has brought these differences back into perspective as it appears that there are some in the LCMS who think working together with the ELCA and continue theological discussions with them is a good thing.  These differences make clear that the ELCA and LCMS are on completely different paths.  In the LCMS we have even a Synod President who admonishes the whole body to repent.  In the ELCA you have a presiding bishop who embraces impenitent sin and promotes it with the resources of the whole denomination.

Thanks to Pastor Riley for bringing this back to the front again.

 

For those who follow Pastor Riley on Facebook or on his blog, you will soon have the chance to read some of his thoughts here at BJS, as he will be joining the regular writing crew here.

 






Rules for comments on this site:


Engage the contents and substance of the post. Rabbit trails and side issues do not help the discussion of the topics.  Our authors work hard to write these articles and it is a disservice to them to distract from the topic at hand.  If you have a topic you think is important to have an article or discussion on, we invite you to submit a request through the "Ask a Pastor" link or submit a guest article.


Provide a valid email address. If you’re unwilling to do this, we are unwilling to let you comment.


Provide at least your first name. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example.  If you have a good reason to use a fake name, please do so but realize that the administrators of the site expect a valid email address and also reserve the right to ask you for your name privately at any time.


If you post as more than one person from the same IP address, we’ll block that address.


Do not engage in ad hominem arguments. We will delete such comments, and will not be obligated to respond to any complaints (public or private ones) about deleting your comments.


Interaction between people leaving comments ought to reflect Christian virtue, interaction that is gracious and respectful, not judging motives.  If error is to be rebuked, evidence of the error ought to be provided.


We reserve the right to identify and deal with trollish behavior as we see fit and without apology.  This may include warnings (public or private ones) or banning.

  1. Donald Philip Veitch
    July 31st, 2012 at 00:07 | #1

    Pastor:

    Be of good cheer, brother in Christ, and hold forth.

    Although not a Lutheran and while an old school Prayer Book Anglican living in a liberal exile (TEC) due to no other local alternatives and yet refusing to compromise the BCP, the old Reformed Confession, Ordinal, and the classical and catholic loci of dogmatics, it is bracing and encouraging–albeit our differences–to see Confessional Lutherans standing and pressing on. It’s quite a good word you’ve offered. As an outsider, you have a fan of your stances.

    Sir, as I age, I’m not mellowing, but getting crankier, nastier, more noisy and more salty. I think the Teutonic Titan might approve.

    As a retired Marine, I say, “Away with these damned liberals. Fire when ready, Gridley. Fire at will.”

    “Hit em’ fast. Hit em’ often. And hit em’ hard. Then, hit em’ again.” ADM Bull Halsey, PACFLT, USN. WW2.

    Thank you for your persistence and encouraging report. And be of good cheer, justified brother in Christ.

    Regards.

  2. July 31st, 2012 at 04:27 | #2

    Thank you, Pastors Scheer and Riley, for providing handy source documents showing what they believe — from the horse’s… mouth, so to speak.

    ELCA: “God now is saying or doing something new.”

    LCMS: “We believe that the Scriptures are the final standard by which we must judge everything that we believe, teach and confess….our differences over the authority and reliability of God’s Word lie at the heart of the other differences between the ELCA and the LCMS.”

    (The second quote is from “What about… The Difference between the ELCA and the LCMS,” one in of a series of 27 pamphlets. They are still available on the LCMS website here: http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=388).

  3. July 31st, 2012 at 07:09 | #3

    You’ll have to do one sometime on the differences between the LCMS and the WELS for those of us less familiar with the latter! :D

    Stay the course. Liberalism (especially in the church) has a tendency to gut itself. If you want an example of this, look at the United Church of Christ in Canada. Hold to the Scriptures, the confessions, and the liturgy; they will remain long after the latest fads and trends have come and gone. It’s one of the things that attracts me and my family to Lutheranism!

  4. Carl Vehse
    July 31st, 2012 at 08:52 | #4

    In its April 2012 Response report to the XXXA’s “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” (HSGT) the CTCR stated:

    “The ELCA has now taken this step, embodying apostasy from the faith once delivered to the saints.”

    A footnote to that statement includes the following quote from a former XXXA pastor and author now colloquized in the LCMS:

    “Of the blessed union of Christ and the church, the marriage of one man and one woman is the matchless icon. The willful departure from this norm is an offense for which ‘heresy’ is too mild a designation.”

    In the Foreword to the book, The Contemporary Debate on Homosexual Clergy: A Theological Discussion in the Formerly Lutheran State Churches in Germany, which contains a translated essay by the Rev. Dr. Armin Wenz, CTSFW Professor John T. Pless writes:

    “While Wenz focuses on developments in Germany, the parallels in North American Lutheranism are unmistakably clear…. A revision of the biblical strictures against homosexual behavior strikes at the heart of the doctrines of creation and sin, indeed at the doctrine of God. Homosexual activity is, in fact, the bodily enactment of idolatry.” [Pless also includes in the Foreword the same quote from Wolfhart Pannenberg as did the CTCR Response to the HSGT report.]

    As the 2009 XXXA Church Wide Assembly wrapped up their meeting which had approved ordaining active homosexuals two days earlier, on Friday, August 21, 2009, LCMS World Relief Executive Director Matthew Harrison answered a question (at 9:16) from Rev. Todd Wilken on Issues, Etc.:

    Wilken: “Is apostasy too strong a word to describe what we’ve watched over the last — better part — of the decade that culminates this afternoon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America?”
    Harrison: “No, it is apostasy. There’s no way around it. It gives me great pain to say that, but there’s no other word for it.”

    The difference between the XXXA and the LCMS is the difference between apostasy and the Lutheran Confessions.

  5. Dave Likeness
    July 31st, 2012 at 09:29 | #5

    The major difference between the LCMS and ELCA will
    always be based on Holy Scriptures. If you do not
    believe the Bible is God’s Word to you, then you start
    to believe in abortion, evolution, gay marriage, etc.
    It is extremely unfortunate that Lutherans in the
    United States can not agree on the basic authority
    of God’s Word for our lives.

  6. Jim Hamilton
    July 31st, 2012 at 15:37 | #6

    I always feel very sad when I read stuff like this. The ELCA is so lost and so desperately in need of repentance and faith. They have placed human “wisdom” and political correctness over God’s inspired Word. It’s a tragedy. It’s also remarkable how the same heresies repeat themselves over and over again through the centuries. The author quotes a official ELCA document that nakedly endorses modalism, a heresy that is somewhere around 1800 years old.

  7. Lumpenkönig
    July 31st, 2012 at 16:19 | #7

    Are the ELCA people flocking to the LCMS? Too bad that whole congregations are not making the switch.

    How do you relay the “LCMS is the best” message to ELCA dissidents without sounding patronizing. The old ELCA grandma in Cedar Falls, Iowa can be turned off by the “You guys are apostates” message. Can anyone market it “Worldview Everlasting style.”

    How do you make the presentation look appealing. The last thing an ELCA/NALC/LCMC person needs is to wade through an uninspired online version of an old IBM computer manual.

  8. Jason
    July 31st, 2012 at 16:46 | #8

    @Lumpenkönig #7

    Well one BIG challenge is that women’s ordination has been in their culture for so long, that they will have aversions to the LCMS. That is why NALC and LCMC started. Some people (ALPB types) have refenreced a running list of ELCA defectors. I have seen it. Only about 3 out of the 100’s (close to 1000) have joined the LCMS. So I don’t know if we can expect wholesale crossing over to our synod.

  9. Dave Likeness
    July 31st, 2012 at 16:55 | #9

    ELCA parishes are not likely to join the LCMS. There
    are two issues they will not surrender. 1) Women’s
    Ordination for those Lutherans began in 1970.
    2) Open Communion means to them that all Christians
    are welcome at the Lord’s Altar.

    The evangelism efforts of the LCMS would be better
    focused on the unchurched in our communities.
    Some disenchanted ELCA laity will sometimes join
    an LCMS parish.

  10. Carl Vehse
    July 31st, 2012 at 17:43 | #10

    NALC is predominantly East coast ecumenical, uber “high church,” papish-sympathizing, and pro-ordained female pastrixes. Flushing theological nonsense out of a NALC person who wants to join an LCMS congregation may require extensive catechetical efforts.

    NALC only broke from XXXA because they couldn’t accept active lesbian partrixes.

  11. Deaconess Lorraine Roach
    July 31st, 2012 at 18:22 | #11

    Many questions to President Harrison at the NW District convention were an embarrassment to those of us in the NW District who follow confessional LCMS doctrine.
    Most Lutheran churches in this area (northern Idaho) were LCA, and did not understand the implications of the merger that became the ELCA. As one former LCA/ELCA (now LCMS) member observed, “They stole our church from us!” Several of those churches have now left the ELCA, several others voted disagreement with ELCA decisions, but are struggling with next steps. They need our prayers…

  12. helen
    July 31st, 2012 at 20:06 | #12

    @Dave Likeness #9
    ELCA parishes are not likely to join the LCMS.

    One congregation did, down on the Texas coast. One fears that with whole congregations there will only be a change of label, not a change of heart. Unless, of course, they never did approve of all the changes.

    We have some [former elca] members. One active couple, and one pair that I haven’t seen again since they transferred. In the dim past, the woman attended lcms school, so she didn’t think she really needed the Pastor’s instruction class. I think she did (but maybe not worse than a few of our “never left the lcms” members). :(

  13. Lumpenkönig
    July 31st, 2012 at 20:36 | #13

    The best that we could ever hope for is that the ELCA splinter groups tighten their communion polices and allow for no new ordinations of women.

    Using Historical/Higher Criticism to make exceptions to a “men only” pastorate and to promote open communion could bring the accusation of picking and choosing what to forbid and what to allow. If the LCMC and the NALC still cling to Historical/Higher Criticism, then what is the point? If they were to abandon the use of this tool and rely strictly on the bible, then the justification for women pastors and open communion would fall like a house of cards.

  14. David Hartung
    July 31st, 2012 at 21:13 | #14

    Thank you for the link to Pastor Riley’s blog article. It is useful and informative. However, I cannot help but wonder how an ELCA theologian might respond that article.

    Just curious.

  15. July 31st, 2012 at 21:18 | #15

    @David Hartung #14
    As the original author of that article on the differences, I can say that the ELCA theologians that I have run it past were either 1) indifferent (so what?) or 2) shocked (our website says that?). The LCMS has long been disliked by the ELCA (remember that 1/3 of the forming body of the ELCA were guys who left or were threw out by the LCMS).

    Largely, the ELCA has become an umbrella organization, allowing any sort of beliefs to exist under its name. In some ways it is like Rome, whose great diversity is unified only by submission to the Pope in Rome. It is their example which makes me fearful that the LCMS is becoming more and more that way, finding unity only in some “core” beliefs and allowing much diversity in others.

    @Dave Likeness #9
    Your two issues are the exact reasons why the LCMC and NALC exist, and they differ on polity mainly.

  16. Larry Kleinschmidt
    August 1st, 2012 at 03:32 | #16

    Pastor Joshua Scheer :
    The LCMS has long been disliked by the ELCA (remember that 1/3 of the forming body of the ELCA were guys who left or were threw out by the LCMS).

    Actually, it was more like 2%, not 1/3. At the time of the merger, the ALC and LCA had around 2.6 million members each, while the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, the body that left the Missouri Synod, had only about 100,000 members.

  17. August 1st, 2012 at 04:41 | #17

    @Larry Kleinschmidt #16
    “Actually, it was more like 2%…”

    Yet, they were a very vocal and influencial minority who disliked the LCMS from the beginning and don’t think very highly of us today. You’ve never heard them call us rigid legalists and unloving? Even as they affirm sin and discourage repentance… (That’s loving?)

  18. helen
    August 1st, 2012 at 07:30 | #18

    @Carl Vehse #10
    papish-sympathizing, and pro-ordained female pastrixes.

    Isn’t that a contradiction, Carl? Or an oxymoron?

    A fascination with “fancy dress” and minute details of ceremony may signal a deficiency of real doctrine but is it a leaning to Rome?

    [If you are referring to polity, we have our own "infallible popes" ... we call them DP's!]

  19. August 1st, 2012 at 09:32 | #19

    @Larry Kleinschmidt #16
    Wasn’t the merger of the ALC, LCA, and AELC? That makes it one of the three main denominations in the merger. That is where I got the 1/3. It is also notable that the AELC may have been small, but as Pr. Crandall points out, it was very vocal. Also don’t forget the ALC may have been a bit bitter toward the LCMS given our marriage to them and our divorce not too many years later. I know you were going by membership, I was only trying to go by # of denoms.

  20. Carol Broome
    August 1st, 2012 at 10:06 | #20

    Pastor Joshua Scheer :@Larry Kleinschmidt #16 Wasn’t the merger of the ALC, LCA, and AELC? That makes it one of the three main denominations in the merger. That is where I got the 1/3. It is also notable that the AELC may have been small, but as Pr. Crandall points out, it was very vocal. Also don’t forget the ALC may have been a bit bitter toward the LCMS given our marriage to them and our divorce not too many years later. I know you were going by membership, I was only trying to go by # of denoms.

    The AELC started talking about themselves, very early in their existance, as a ‘catalyst’ for Lutheran unity. They needed the combo a great deal because they had far too few congregations to absorb all the Seminex pastors that were graduating, and because in general the AELC, like its predecessor movement, ELIM, was heavy in clergy relative to congregations.

    Much of the ALC and LCA leadership saw the Seminex professors as those who had been ‘through the fire’ of persecution (obviously I see this FAR differently) and so they had a great deal of sympathy for them. Additionally, given their history, the Seminex faculty was more of an organized block than most of those they were joining, so they were accustomed to lobbying strongly and consistenly as a group. This made them formidable. All of this added up to the AELC having an influence beyond what their population numbers would imply.

  21. August 1st, 2012 at 10:52 | #21

    The bottom line is the ELCA is a cult.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult

  22. Carl Vehse
    August 1st, 2012 at 11:20 | #22

    @helen #18 :

    “NALC is… papish-sympathizing, and pro-ordained female pastrixes.”

    Isn’t that a contradiction, Carl? Or an oxymoron?

    You can change the phrase to “NALC is… contradictory, oxymoronic, papish-sympathizing, and pro-ordained female pastrixes.”

    The “papish-sympathizing” refers to NALC polity preferences.

  23. helen
    August 1st, 2012 at 13:03 | #23

    @Carl Vehse #22
    The “papish-sympathizing” refers to NALC polity preferences.

    @helen #18
    [If you are referring to polity, we have our own "infallible popes" ... we call them DP's!]

    :)

  24. soldier of christ
    August 1st, 2012 at 13:29 | #24

    This is educational but really nothing new. What would be more helpful to LCMS is a listing of our doctrinal divisions and where we are divided as a synod, so we can be honest in refuting the heresy in our midst. Why are we so concerned about the ELCA’s heresy when LCMS has enough of its own and tolerates it, without a rebuke from the Scripture? It’s time to remove the log from our own eye first. So, it would be very helpful to delineate the doctrinal heresies of the LCMS pastors and people, many of which are the same as ELCA – open communion, women pastors, etc.

  25. Carl Vehse
    August 1st, 2012 at 14:03 | #25

    @soldier of christ #24: “What would be more helpful to LCMS is a listing of our doctrinal divisions and where we are divided as a synod”

    See the ACELC Admonition & Error Documents.

    “Why are we so concerned about the ELCA’s heresy when LCMS has enough of its own and tolerates it, without a rebuke from the Scripture?”

    See the ACELC’s Fraternal Admonition to the LCMS.
    .

  26. David Hartung
    August 1st, 2012 at 14:27 | #26

    soldier of christ :
    This is educational but really nothing new. What would be more helpful to LCMS is a listing of our doctrinal divisions and where we are divided as a synod, so we can be honest in refuting the heresy in our midst. Why are we so concerned about the ELCA’s heresy when LCMS has enough of its own and tolerates it, without a rebuke from the Scripture? It’s time to remove the log from our own eye first. So, it would be very helpful to delineate the doctrinal heresies of the LCMS pastors and people, many of which are the same as ELCA – open communion, women pastors, etc.

    A group called the ACELC has attempted to do as you suggest. At this time I am unwilling to accept that they are any closer to sound teaching than is the Synod as a whole.

  27. helen
    August 1st, 2012 at 16:37 | #27

    @soldier of christ #24

    Take “Carl Vehse’s” advice and read the ACELC material.

    Try harder, David! ;)

  28. sig arnesen
    August 1st, 2012 at 20:28 | #28

    My, my, my, isn’t it so very wonderful how pristine the LCMS is!…and, the ELCA is the devil incarnate….and so is the idea that the world is round…that slavery should be upheld…that women (God help us!) should have the right to vote and hold office…..and (unfortunately!) that parents are no longer able to stone their children to death as the “Biblical Scholars” deem appropriate.! From these, and many other deleterious theological conclusions we can conclude that the world (including the ELCA) is going to hell in a handbasket…..LCMS seems to imagine that progress means going back to whatever they considered godly.
    How wonderful to have all the MYSTERY solved
    (This post written on the day it became legal for women to have free access toBirth Control under the nefarious Obamacare!…God must shudder)

  29. Carl Vehse
    August 1st, 2012 at 21:35 | #29

    @sig arnesen #28,

    Your statements can be put into relevant context by noting that you are listed on the internet as a retired pastor in a religious organization, which a LCMS commission has described as “embodying apostasy,” and as a supporter of Barack Hussein Obama (aka Barry Soetero; aka Steve Dunham).

  30. August 2nd, 2012 at 17:49 | #30

    @Carl Vehse #10

    You are quite right, Carl, but you would be surprised just who in the LCMS thinks that the NALC are the new cool kids on the block. Note carefully, for example, the affiliation of a number of Lutheran (and Reformed!) theologians quoted in the the CTCR’s latest missive.

    Perhaps I am off by one or two, but I found only three LCMS theologians mentioned in the entire 26-page document, and their writings were not even substantially engaged.

    Isn’t that odd?

  31. Lumpenkönig
    August 3rd, 2012 at 19:57 | #31

    Pastor Ted Crandall :
    @Larry Kleinschmidt #16
    “Actually, it was more like 2%…”
    Yet, they were a very vocal and influencial minority who disliked the LCMS from the beginning and don’t think very highly of us today. You’ve never heard them call us rigid legalists and unloving? Even as they affirm sin and discourage repentance… (That’s loving?)

    When was Seminex? 1974? That was 38(!) years ago. Hardly anyone under the age of 50 would know, nor care about Seminex. As those radical pastors who began their careers in the 1970s retire, what kind of pastor is taking their places? Are the new pastors just as liberal, or are they more mellow and more reasonable?

  32. August 4th, 2012 at 18:32 | #32

    @Lumpenkönig #31
    “Are the new pastors just as liberal, or are they more mellow and more reasonable?”

    It was the new pastors who recently embraced sodomy. And it is those same new pastors who still judge us to be unloving for warning homosexuals that God still does not embrace sodomy.

    Is it true that there are more females than males at ELCA seminaries now? How’s that for less liberal, more mellow and more reasonable? :)

  33. Rev. Clint Poppe
    August 4th, 2012 at 20:18 | #33

    David Hartung wrote: “A group called the ACELC has attempted to do as you suggest. At this time I am unwilling to accept that they are any closer to sound teaching than is the Synod as a whole.”

    David,

    What are your concerns regarding the “sound teaching” or lack thereof by the ACELC?

    Thanks in advance,

    Rev. Clint K. Poppe
    Chairman, ACELC

  34. helen
    August 5th, 2012 at 14:45 | #34

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #19
    Also don’t forget the ALC may have been a bit bitter toward the LCMS …

    There was ALC (German) which “married and divorced” LCMS in a relatively short period.
    Then there was TALC, a merger of Germans, ELC (Norwegian) and Danish Synod, which later was lost in the elca.

    I was in the German ALC when the merger with the Norwegians was under discussion.
    The older men would have preferred to join Missouri then, but in the absence of any discussion in that direction by the governing body, they didn’t make waves. [Country churches there had about as much influence as country churches do in LCMS, i.e., none upward in the bureaucracy.] :(

    AELC had influence out of proportion to its numbers in elca because of its connections to “MainStreamMedia” throught the Lutheran publicity bureau. To this day, it’s an uphill job to convince the media that there is more than one Lutheran church. (That elca isn’t “it” may be impossible.)

If you have problems commenting on this site, or need to change a comment after it has been posted on the site, please contact us. For help with getting your comment formatted, click here.
Subscribe to comments feed  ..  Subscribe to comments feed for this post
Anonymous comments are welcome on this board, but we do require a valid email address so the admins can verify who you are. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example. Email addresses are kept private on this site, and only available to the site admins. Comments posted without a valid email address may not be published. Want an icon to identify your comment? See this page to see how.
*

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.