ELCA Update: Substitute Motion on Homosexual Clergy Fails, by Pr. Rossow

The ELCA Churchwide Assembly just rejected (9:30 AM Central) a substitute motion that would have overturned the proposal to allow the rostering of active homosexual clergy. There is good news and bad news in this action.

Of course, overall this is bad news. The floor voted 2 to 1 rejecting this substitute motion. That implies that the same basic ratio will apply later this morning or this afternoon when the question is called on the main motion. So following up on their motion on Wednesday which  allows practicing homosexuals to do so without guilt, they will now approve of having practicing homosexuals on the clergy roster of the ELCA.

The silver lining on this dark cloud of idolatry, worshipping human reason over God’s word, is the numerous speeches by the minority speaking against this idolatry. Many of the minority view speakers called the ELCA back to scripture. They also recognized the false theology of conscience that the ELCA is using to support this heresy. A word about this conscience argument may help the Brothers of John the Steadfast and our other readers appreciate this deceptive tool of Satan.  

Luther stated in his  battle against Rome that he was bound by conscience to stay the course.  Of course, Luther’s conscience was bound by  Scripture as he clearly stated at the Diet of Worms. In the nineteenth century  liberals within Christianity began to subject  the authority of Scripture  to the authority of human reason. This is the so-called scientific turn in culture. In the twentieth century trust in scientific progress began to wane but the liberals did not mis a stride. They simply replaced trust in scientific reason with  trust in extreme individualism. This turn to the individual is characterized by the rise in psychology, existentialist philosophy and finally the anti-authoritarianism of the 1960’s.

It is this turn to the individual that the ELCA and other liberal denominations are embracing in place of Scripture. In other words, if my conscience says it is so, it must be so. They are now re-writing history and claiming that this was Luther’s insight. Of course it was not. The conservative speakers at the mics have tried to convince the ELCA assembly that Luther was not bound to pure conscience but conscience bound by Scripture as we are in the LCMS.

If time allows I will update you on the final vote but it is clear how that vote will turn out based on the failure of the substitute motion this morning.

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.


ELCA Update: Substitute Motion on Homosexual Clergy Fails, by Pr. Rossow — 14 Comments

  1. Pr. Rossow,

    I, too, noticed the “bound conscience” talk without grounding in scripture. It reminded me of the Calvinists and evangelicals who don’t believe the Word is a means of grace, but that God speaks to us immediately apart from scripture.

  2. That’s right Jim. Right alongside the conscience illogic is a bunch of heretical claims that the Holy Spirit is telling the delegates to contradict what He has inspired in Holy Writ.


  3. They are desparately trying to keep the illusion of being a Christian assembly by offering prayer every 20 minutes or so and before voting on each resolution. Since all Ministers of the Gospel have pledged to teach according to Scripture and the Confessions, how does “conscience” trump this — especially a conscience not bound by Scripture?! The extreme individual conscience has now become the sole arbiter of “truth”; a truly post-modern moment.

  4. For crying out loud! Don’t you guys get it? The Holy Ghost is doing a “new thing,” and by voting they get to “explore” the Spirit’s work, and (of course) they get to interpret it! How handy is that? By the way, the Holy Spirit told me to tell you to give me $$. 🙂

  5. I wonder how President Kieschnick will handle this on Saturday when he gives his welcome speech from the LCMS? I bet their will be a lot of people watching. I’m not a big fan of our current president, but I can not believe he would throw a softball after the actions taken this week. I hope and pray he does and says the right thing.


  6. From responder #1: “…It reminded me of the Calvinists and evangelicals who don’t believe the Word is a means of grace, but that God speaks to us immediately apart from scripture…”

    While this statement may be true of many mainline American Evangelicals as well as some mainline Presbyterian/Reformed denominations (such as the PCUSA), it cannot be said of Confessional Reformed any more than it can of Confessional Lutherans.

    While we differ with the Reformed on several levels, the Word and the Sacraments as the true means of grace is not one of them – at least not with the Confessional Reformed. They also do not support the concept of on-going revelation apart from Scripture, as do many Evangelicals.

    One of the problems with definitions in this regard might be the use of the term “Calvinist.” It is common to hear many mainline Evangelicals describe themselves as “5-point Calvinists,” implying their agreement with the Reformed view of predestination. However (and, again, we have a different interpretation about predestination than do the Reformed), their cursory subscription to these so-called “five-points” makes them no more a true Calvinist (i.e., Reformed) than it makes one of these ELCA liberals confessional just because they publish the Creeds in their hymnals.

  7. In light of Eph 5:7, 1 Cor. 5:11, Romans 16:17, why on earth would our president show up. They know us well, we know them well, doesn’t Scripture tell us to move on, he might as well be speaking into the wind.

    But if he goes, I Tim. 5:20- as those who presist in sin- REBUKE them! If he does not give then harsh law (which is the only loving thing to do) and call them to repent -he would be wrong. He can’t just go as in past 2 conventions and say “Greeting from all your brothers and sisters in Christ from the 6,321 congregations and 2.63 million mbrs of the LCMS blah, blah, mission work to a dying world and people going to hell every second, blah blah… we have many things in common…, we disagree on things…, let’s work on being…”

  8. I cannot by my own “bound conscience” believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit calls me by the Gospel…

  9. When man sins against the Holy Spirit and against his own consciences long enough his faith in Jesus becomes dimmer and dimmer until at last his heart is hardened and faith is lost. His naturally sinful and corrupted mind is given over to complete rebellion against God and he no longer views sin as being bad, but as good. This situation is a result of the failure to fear, love and trust in God above all things and constantly return to Him for the forgiveness of sins. It is a result of refusing to repent of our wicked rebellion and rejecting Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection for us.

    We pray God would bring us daily to repentance and life in His Son.

  10. I do have to slightly disagree with George @6 –

    While confessional Calvinists (which confession?) may indeed stand firm in stating that God does not give ongoing revelation, even so, it is precisely “the Word and the Sacraments as the true means of grace” where we differ with the Calvin as well as the rest, and, in fact, have no fellowship with them.

    Likewise, it is the classic position of the reformed that we do NOT differ in this place. Reminds me somewhat of a 52% vote stating that we are not divided.

    God bless the Calvinists! May they repent of their reason regarding the Sacraments of Jesus Christ, in order that the Reformation Churches might truly unite and stand firm before the world in one, catholic, evangelical confession.

    +pax Christi+

    PS – for those who have not – Herman Sasse’s Lonely Way volumes 1 and 2 (and forthcoming 3?) are MUST reads for anyone interested in understanding both the confessional reformed (as differentiated from Zwinglian reformed) AND Lutheran theology in this matter of the “means of grace.”

    PPS – As Kim Riddlebarger said it to Todd Wilken only a few months ago, “Take eat AS IF this is the body of Jesus.” This is very much a differing on what is or is not a true means of grace, the power of Jesus’ Word, as a matter of eating orally by the faithful and unbelieving alike.

  11. Rev. Wollenberg hit the nail on the head. As an about-to-be-ex ELCA I can comment that the term “bound conscience” used by the Sexuality Task Force and at CWA bears only the thinnest cosmetic veneer to Luther’s understanding and use of the term. It’s a not so subtle invocation of Luther to paper over the very non-Lutheran direction taken in order to provide a smokescreen of validity to the (benighted) pewsitters. They use the term for their own consciences bound to the power of culture not to power of scripture, while saying they are bound to the Gospel and thereby engaging the culture. They’ve gone almost completely for a modern Marcionism-antinomianism.

  12. Revfisk –

    Yes, what you say is true about how we differ with the Reformed over the means of grace when it comes to the Lord’s Supper. We see Christ’s body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine. Calvin disputed this, saw the resurrected body of Christ as ours will be some day and therefore not something that could be spread across the cosmos whenever communion was celebrated. Rather than Christ coming “down” to us in the Lord’s Supper, he thought that we were “elevated up” to the heavenly realms, spiritually, during the act of communing. [1]

    However, even Luther says, “…Since this treasure is entirely presented in the words, it cannot be received or made ours in any other way than with the heart. Such a gift and eternal treasure cannot be seized with the fist. Fasting, prayer, and other such things may indeed be outward preparations an discipline for children, so that the body may keep and bring itself modestly and reverently to receive Christ’s body and blood. Yet the body cannot seize and make its own what is given in and with the Sacrament. This is done by faith in the heart, with discerns this treasure and desires it…” [2]

    Though Luther saw the physical presence in the elements, he also realized the need for faith to receive it appropriately. Does this means that we may go to the Reformed Christians table? Never! Nor should they come to ours! But I have a hunch that had Luther and Calvin been alive in the same generation, and had met and discussed doctrine in detail, we might today enjoy a greater unity with our Reformed friends.

    Nevertheless, they are certainly in agreement with us when it comes to our understanding that God has spoken to us through the Scriptures (i.e., via the Prophets and the Apostles) and that extra-Biblical revelation is not canonical – which is the only point I was trying to make – not to lump the Confessional Reformed in with every other American Evangelical who calls himself a “Calvinist” (and largely has no idea what he’s talking about).

    Pax Vobiscum

    [1] W.Robert Godfrey, “John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor,” Crossway Books, 2009, pp. 91-94.

    [2] Martin Luther, “Luther’s Large Catechism,” Book of Concord, CPH, 2006, paragraphs 36-38.

  13. The entire proceedings and outcome are reeking of Phariseeism, human reason and individualism, just as the FIRST TIME I heard of the elca ordaining homosexuals into the ministry years ago reeked of the same.

    On the opposition side were two delgates (I did not catch their names): one quoted from Scripture and the other from the Book of Concord, I believe from the Smalcald Articles, reminding me of Martin Luther who was always seen with his Bible in his hand. Yes, Pr. Rossow, this faithful confession to Jesus’ voice is “the silver lining on this dark cloud of idolatry.” Humanity, tempted by Satan as it was by him in Genesis 3:1, will always oppose Scripture and confession to Christ crucified.

    CLEARLY and PUBLICALLY the elca church body is choosing to call something that is unnatural and an evil a good. Has God given the elca up to “dishonorable passions” and “shameful acts”? (Romans 1:26-28).

    Clearly and publically the elca church body is choosing to change Scripture by allowing homosexual clergy. “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer,…[he (male)] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife… (I Timothy 3:1,2).”

    “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)” Therefore, as I am thankful that I hear my pastor tell me to “Repent,” I exhort the elca church to repent of this action, for the forgiveness by God of this public sin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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