Latest ELCA Revisionist Opinion on Sexuality Rejected by Matt Harrison, by Pr. Rossow

It has been called to our attention that Matt Harrison, who some have touted for the presidency of the LCMS in 2010, has written a strong statement against  an unbiblical position  on sexuality released by the ELCA today. The ELCA study committee is recommending to their convention this summer that they allow practicing homosexual clergy in their  synod. You can read Rev. Harrison’s  statement here  along with a link to the ELCA paper.

Rev. Harrison has had to walk gingerly in the past few years working with  liberal Lutheran denominations  on human care projects but as he states in the press release, this is becoming more and more difficult. We here at the Brothers of John the Steadfast encourage Rev. Harrison to continue being skeptical of the propriety of the LCMS being involved in such ventures. We need to be a beacon of the revealed truth of God and not cave into the post-modern relativism that now characterizes so many false denominations.

It is refreshing to  read someone touted for the LCMS presidency being facile with terms like “revisionist.” (“Revisionism” refers to an approach to historical writings, including the Bible, that remakes them, i.e. revises them,  so that they fit more modern and “enlightened” views. For example, the Bible’s clear statements against homosexuality are rejected as mere ancient sexism.)

I do not mean this next statement to be mean-spirited but just my straight-forward understanding of things. In all the years I have followed President Kieschnick,  in the few personal encounters I have had with him, and having heard numerous public presentations by him, I have never been impressed that profound theology, a hallmark of Lutheranism, is second nature to him. He is more comfortable with a vocabulary that comes out of the pop culture oriented church growth movement (“leadership,” “critical moment,” “strategic coordination,” “vision,” etc.). The ability to take a firm stand against the deteriorating ecumenical scene and do so with theological acumen and facility seems like a great trait for synodical president and the more I hear of Rev. Harrison, the more I am impressed that he has this ability.

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.


Latest ELCA Revisionist Opinion on Sexuality Rejected by Matt Harrison, by Pr. Rossow — 17 Comments

  1. Remind me again why ELCA still has the right to be called “Lutheran”?

    There’s really no reason why we shouldn’t push for having the “Lutheran” in ELCA dropped. It represents confessional Lutherans and the original inspired beliefs of Martin Luther badly, and I don’t think ELCA would even fight too much to keep it–why would they want to, when their theology is progressing more towards a “inclusive to everyone, vaguely defined” point of view, and according to their thought, being seen as only “Lutheran” would only hold them back from that sort of philosophy.

    At the very least it would make searching for confessional Lutheran blogs easier 😉

  2. Ariel,

    It was good to meet you at the conference. Yes, it would be a better world in which the ELCA is not using the word “Lutheran.” Sadly, they do revisionist work on that name as well. They are Lutheran only in a cultural sort of way. They like to say that just as Luther was a champion for underdog causes so too they are. For them, that is what the Reformation boils down to, instead of the defense of the true word of God that it was.

    Pastor Rossow

  3. Bubbles,

    I can’t believe I didn’t think of that one. I am covetously sinful of your idea!

    Pastor Rossow

  4. Pastor Rossow;
    We already have a “trademark” stamped upon us for Christ marked us with His name and signed us with His cross at our baptism. This marks us as Lutheran in so far as we cling to all the teachings of Christ as he commanded and seek to do his will in our vocations.

    Pr. Harrison is an excellent example of a “Lutheran” in that he always begins with an incessive clinging to the Word of God (complete and uncompromising fidelity) which directs his (and our) efforts to our neighbors in mercy and the love of Christ. Where we stand to begin our journey will determine how our “faithful struggle to serve those in need” succeeds. When we begin with “Kyrie Eleison” realizing we, indeed, are beggars, we can, through faith, believe in His promises and gladly go forth to spread His love and mercy throughout creation. This “mark” far surpasses any offering from a secular patent office or any other false teachers and their empty promises.

  5. Remind me why they should even be called a church in the wide sense. I am sure you have decent Christians within their midst. However, this possibility is troubling also as it can be safely said that there are no orthodox Lutheran pastors in the ELCA. If there were they would not be standing there and condoning the outright Scriptural denials taking place.

    This I think begs the question, Why are you working with these people anyway? They certainly are not of the same spirit as those in the LCMS! It is no wonder some have leveled a charge of unionism against the LCMS.

    I applaud Pastor Harrison in making the effort to reconsider if he really wants to work with those of a different spirit. It is obvious the current President would think nothing of it.

  6. Larry,

    I agree with you. I am not sure why we work with groups like the ELCA. It seems to me that it is a political thing. Denominations are slow to cut off relations with each other (even when they are simply over this matter of human care) and maybe that is good but in this case it just seems contrary to the Gospel to be involved at any level with such a severely heterodox group such as the ELCA.

    Pastor Rossow

  7. This might be a good time to dive back into history and look at the arguments about “Cooperation in Externals” that were part of the break-up of the Synodical Conference.

  8. The ELCA has been slipping toward heterodoxy for a long time. I find it all a great tragedy. If anyone wonders why mainstream denominations are withering on the vine, simply look to the Episcopalian Church, the United Methodist Church, and the ELCA. When you reject Scripture in favor of conforming to the culture, when you exchange the truth for a lie, and when you seek to please men rather than God, you are headed for irrelevancy and decline.

  9. Kieschnick will keep courting e**a because he doesn’t understand Lutheran doctrine as well as he understands “BIG”.

    The headline in the LA Times this morning was (approximately) “Lutheran church approves gay clergy”. In the second or third paragraph they did mention that there are other American Lutheran churches, notably LCMS and WELS which do not ordain gays.

    That is more than we got from NPR, where “the e**a” is equivalent to “the Lutheran church.”

  10. Left Coast Confessional, you pretty much summed up the difference between us as confessional, doctrinal Lutherans and ELCA. I take pride in my church as holding steadfast and strong to the same doctrine and creeds as the True Church has since its inception in Christ. We have a challenge to our believers and our beliefs in the current culture, and the current generation, and I think some will fall away and some will stay faithful to what we believe, but the Church will endure all, as long as it is God’s will.

    As a student of history, my view on history tends to be cyclical–things like this have happened before, and they’ll happen again. The pendulum has swung to one extreme, and before long it will swing to the other extreme. The body of believers has faced secular and heterodox dilemmas like the present one before in Western history–the wholesale slaughter and ritualistic murders of Christians in the latter part of the Roman Empire, the secular and egalitarian glorification of the Enlightenment, the nihilistic Modernist movement following the decimation of World War I, and the cultural revolution of the 1960s–the True Church has survived all of these challenges and we will endure this one. It’s just our job as Christian soldiers to keep the Word pure and do exactly as our Lord commanded us–to go and make disciples, no matter what the worldly kingdom would have us do otherwise.

  11. Note the tone and content of Pr. Harrison’s statement: clear, honest, pastoral, scripturally informed, humble. Utterly free of buzzwords, jargon or legalistic hair-splitting and obfuscation.

    Oh, to have a Synod president who can lead like this!

  12. A synodical president like Pastor Harrison will probably not take place. Just look at the past Kieschnick was supposed to be unseated last time and look what happened he lost and the United candidates lost.

    The Confessional movement needs to grow now more than ever and Confessional and Conservative are not necessarily the same thing. So until discernment can be made between the Confessional and Conservative LCMS is going to go Kieschnick again. This is inspite of the many laity who want to keep LCMS Lutheran.

    Part of the problem is many of the laity do not know what it is to be Confessional Lutherans but think all Christians are close to being the same thing.

  13. Now, while we ought to commend Pastor Harrison for his stand – this is perhaps the one place where you can’t really end up contrasting him too much against President K. (abbreviated so as to not misspell – it’s too early in the morning). President K has consistently been critical of the ELCA’s flirtations with the homosexual agenda (in fact, I think it may be the main thing that has kept him from trying to move quickly towards fellowship).

    Be charitable and fair to a person you wish to defeat – be honest and open about their good points and vilify them not – that way your critiques don’t simply sound like sour grapes. Say he has done X, Y, and Z well, but ______ will do the rest of the alphabet much better — and the wavering middle just might be swayed. No one wants to feel like a “meanie” – so don’t appear mean. Just some thoughts.

  14. Eric,

    That is a good point but notice that the point of the article was not: Harrison conservative on morals, Kieschnnick not. The point was not about that at all. The point was: Harrison facile with theological critique; Kieshcnick not.

    Also, we try to not villify anyone. We try to stick to the facts and report them and comment on them. We have worked hard to keep all of this above personal attacks. We do have our sarcastic moments of fun for sure, but our serious comments are more in this spirit: “agree with his theology or not, President Kieschnick is a lightning rod for controversy and it may be time for more unity and less division caused by the office.”

    Let me know what you think.

    Pastor Rossow

  15. I am an ELCA member, who has also been a member of the LCMS. We left Missouri because it seemed like you had to be in line with George W. Bush and the Republican Party (because of one issue: abortion), and that Limbaugh was more important than Luther. We also felt isolated from other Christians to the point where my wife felt she was being judged by the church for taking part in a community handbell choir, which she loved, and that when she suggested that the choir play at our church, that they would have to be theologically-analysed before they could play. I personally always felt like I was walking on theological eggshells, and if I’d say something “incorrect” or “heterodox,” I’d get bashed round the head with a Book of Concord and denied Communion. We also got sick of hearing how only the LCMS was right and everybody else, including other Lutherans (not just the ELCA, but WELS, ELS, etc) “didn’t get it right.”

    I can assure you that there ARE still orthodox Lutheran pastors in the ELCA (especially former ALC) and that they are mad as hell (pardon the language, but it’s true) about what’s going on at the higher levels of the ELCA. This may be hard for you to believe, but not all of us are running round waving rainbow flags, decorating the altar with pink triangles, and having Bibles written in 2B pencil to edit out the “objectionable” passages! To me the Bible is the Bible – enough said!

    I take deep offence at the suggestion that the ELCA not be allowed to call itself “Lutheran.” WHO ARE YOU TO DECIDE THAT?! (Yes, I’m shouting – my old Air Force instructor persona coming out). Have you forgotten Luther’s explanation of the 8th Commandment? It sounds very much to me like the kind of judgement that Eck, wanted to pass on Luther. In saying such things, you are not “speaking the truth in love.” You are being theologically arrogant. If you can demonstrate that fallible human beings can “keep the Word pure” (the Word needs our help to be pure?), you’ll have accomplished a miracle not seen since Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

    Has the ELCA lost its way? YES, GRIEVOUSLY SO. Is it possible the ELCA will break up? YES. Could that be a good thing? MAYBE. The homosexual pressure groups like “Lutherans Concerned” are not going to stop until they have all restrictions on homosexuals repealed; they’ve already said as much. This might bring about a winnowing of the wheat from the chaff. The bad thing is that it could cause a lot of legal issues relating to property that could drag on for years. The Episcopalians are already dealing with that. There are too many in the ELCA who think that we can just craft some sort of compromise and all will be well. That is not the case. The gay lobby has made their aim known, and there are stubborn types like me who will be “refuseniks.” There is an ELCA church in my city which is “gay welcoming.” I refuse to enter its doors.

    This has been brewing for a long time, but the absolute worst thing that has happened is Mark Hanson being Presiding Bishop, and people like Peter Rogness wielding undue influence.

    You talk about “unity.” The words “unity” and “Lutheran” do not go together well. I don’t think that there is another denomination that eats our own the way Lutherans do, at least in the U.S.

    Instead of denigrating us poor, heterodox, heretical ***A souls, you bloody well ought to be praying for us!

    Has it occurred to you that Satan loves it when those who follow Christ are at one another’s throats?

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