Clarity on the Lutheran CORE Group of the ELCA, by Michael Mapus

(Editor’s Note: on occasion we get a comment on one of the posts that deserves a wider reading. Michael Mapus tells the following instructive story on the post from Thursday about the CORE group in the ELCA. “Michael refers to Word Alone” which is one of the key groups in CORE.)

Eight years ago when I was a member in the ELCA, I was also involved with Word Alone. At that time I was under the delusion that this church body could be turned around with the help of “so called” bible-believing confessional groups like Word Alone. As I began to investigate these groups, particulary their statements on scripture, I found they were very weak. I then called and talked to an ELCA pastor. I asked him point blank “Do you believe the bible is the infallable inerrant Word of God?”. He hee hawed around my question. I then asked him “Is your view of scripture similar to the LCMS?”, he said no. That was a enough for me, shortly after my family and I joined the LCMS. Now looking back and analyzing these such groups, their authority is not the Word of God. They actually hold to some type of “selective/church/christian tradition” as their authority, which is why they have no problem with womens ordination or their fellowship practices. I laugh, but at the sam e time I cry, when they make statements like: “the ELCA has fallen into heresy”. Because they use the “proper language”, many (including myself at one time), believe these groups are bible believing / confessional christians. They are actually nothing but generic moderate liberal mainliners, who dress and talk like lutherans. I cannot help it, but my heart goes out to those sincere christians, who put their trust in groups like this thinking their doing somthing biblical. Actually the only biblical thing to do and what sould have been done 40 years ago, is what Saint Paul tells us in Romans 16:17. Thanks for letting me vent.

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.


Clarity on the Lutheran CORE Group of the ELCA, by Michael Mapus — 9 Comments

  1. Vent away, MM, vent away. That, is the reason, most of us come here! Empathy is a lost art, sharing w/o conceeding, as we are to be taught. I am thankful for your venting.

  2. Any idea what percentage of ELCA clergy are female?

    I watched the ELCA CWA off and on that week. There was more than one female pastor who was unhappy with the same-gender voting results. Where will they go?

    I would imagine that they would at least consider joining the CORE movement.

    How likely is it that CORE would not accept them as female “pastors”?

  3. CORE (and Word Alone, a member group) absolutely accept female pastors – they are in the leadership. I feel rather badly for the intellectual bind of female pastors – they know actively homosexual pastors is against Biblical teaching, and might even realize that the same hermeneutics used to justify them were used to justify their own call and ordination. Where can they go? To go to a church body opposing homosexual ordination on biblical grounds would probably mean going somewhere that would tell them they have been wrong and misled regarding their deepest choices in life and have to re-think their entire theological method and convictions. To stay in the ELCA is to stay in a church that is increasingly moving in directions they realize are un-Christian and even anti-Christian. A painful dilemma! I suspect the self-reflection and repentance needed to leave will be too difficult/painful for the vast majority and they will be forced to stay.
    Bethany (Tanis) Kilcrease

  4. Though I’m sure it feels good to compensate for a lot of past hurts, I’d want to challenge the spirit of the post for many LCMS readers. Is the point to rescue the lost or to confirm for one’s self that they haven’t quite made it home yet?

    Getting someone to change behavior and repent of a wrong understanding of the Word is a long and patient process. I used to be in the ELCA and worked with congregations in renewal groups like WordAlone. Both now and earlier, there are some hurting folks who are seriously looking around at denominational alternatives in American Lutheranism.

    Among other possibilities, I have encouraged folks to check out Missouri as a very real alternative for them. These folks are much more than moderate mainline liberals, and they would agree that issues like women’s ordination are on the far periphery compared living under the authority of Scripture. The main complaint I’ve heard back is that Missouri eminates a sort of confessionalism that offers more of a spiteful, holier (more confessional)-than-thou spirit focused on keeping outsiders away rather than drawing them in and converting them.

    Folks who believe firmly in the value of their confessional witness would do better to emulate the spirit taken on by Matt Harrison on IssuesEtc. He recognized the genuine commitments (even if not all the way there) to Scripture and Confessions of ELCA reformers. He didn’t tag them as “so called bible-believing Confessional groups”, call them “moderate mainline liberals”, or offer a “told-ya-so” stick-in-the-eye, but met them where they were at and genuinely mourned with them in heartfelt sorrow at the deep loss of the Word’s authority, which is honestly, painfully, genuinely felt. He then called for a general repentance and recognized the deep rebellion in every human heart.

    I understand the long history of hurt behind this writer’s experience and thus his need to vent. However, Missouri will need to think seriously about whether its job at the moment is to vent or to rescue.

    One of these approaches will win an open, eager hearing from people cut adrift at a very unique moment. The other will shut them out.

  5. Lifebaot – I agree that we should be focused on rescuing those hurting ELCA members. But hear is the fear – they are not there yet and while the patient teaching apporach to conversion will work very well with individual ELCAers who leave their congregation and join an LCMS congregation, it will not work on the congregational level. If the LCMS were to accept congregations that are not teaching correct doctrine under some kind of delusion that the District/Synod can fix them overtime all that will happen is that the LCMS’s doctrine will take another hit and will be further weakened. Sadly, the LCMS is not up to the challange of correcting entire congregations of the ELCA – we are not strong enough.

  6. Joe – I agree. The LCMS shouldn’t accept heterodox congregations or change one thing about what it believes, teaches, and confesses. However, if individual congregations, pastors, and synod officials want to seize this unique moment, its heart toward ELCA refugees needs a big overhaul.

    There’s a huge difference between:

    [a] You must be cut from the same wretched cloth to last as long as you did in a cesspool like the ELCA. You’ve already cut your own throat by ordaining women and now you’re simply reaping what earlier generations have sown. [True in some cases, but just plain wrong in many others.]

    [b] We’ve got something great things to offer you that will free you up to carry out your mission. We have some differences with your (former?) denomination. Let’s sit down and look at what those strengths and differences are and see if you might find a new home here. One area is in our view of Scripture. [Here’s what we teach.] One of the consequences of that is that it leads us to preach repentant healing to people caught in homosexuality. It also leads us to release women for all sorts of vital ministry, but to reserve the public pastoral office for men. All of that stems from our view of Scripture, which won’t be voted down by five hundred people some random year and would sound very familiar to your parents and grandparents.

    There is a great chasm between those two approaches.

    This isn’t Seminex. If anything, it’s a giant Reverse Seminex.

    Thousands of laypeople, pastors, and congregations who are leaning *toward*, *not away*, from Scripture and confessions, have been cut loose and are looking for new moorings. Like any bewildered refugee, they may be open to coming to some new conclusions that are generally consistent with where they were at, but possibly stronger and further along the way. The old saw that American Christianity moves in a single liberalizing direction is pure bunk.

    Some who are genuinely mainline liberals probably won’t be seeking out such conversation. But thousands of others with a confessional disposition who have been affiliated with groups (like CORE or WordAlone or whatever) have been knocked into a disoriented troubled state. And they’ll be checking out individual laypeople and pastors.

    Will they be met by an understandable and self-satisfying need to “told-ya-so” or by a spirit of “I’m sorry. There is so much to repent for. Let’s sit down and talk.”

  7. Dear Lifeboat,

    I had a phone conversation with my mother this morning who is still in the ELCA. She went this us yesterday to my LCMS congregation to help us with the church breakfast. She made the statement this morning, “I can see why you go there, the people are so nice”. I then corrected her, “I said mom, I don’t drive 35 miles to church because the people are nice”. I went on to explain the reasons and she somewhat understood where I was coming from. Was I being “holier than thou” with my mother? Some would say so. No Mr. or Mrs. Lifeboat, I love my mother dearly and because I do, I TOLD THE HER THE TRUTH! I still have many family and friends in the ELCA who I care about very deeply. So I’m not going to tell them to join groups who want to continue putting band aids on the scrapes and bruises without ever getting to the cause. I was dubed by such groups, even though some new my positions. So they continued to use all the right language and I believed them, until I asked “the question” and I went to the top to ask it. If telling the truth about someone’s position is considered “sticking them in the eye”, then so be it! I stick them in the eye with the truth in love. Why? Because I’m a worse sinner than they and I love them to much to see them continue to chase their tail into the depth’s of hell. I do agree with you on one thing, the LCMS hasn’t been a good witness for many ELCA lutherans. They have stood back (besides a few synodical resolutions) and watched their brothers and sisters in Christ, morning with them the whole down the slippery slope. I wished some LCMS lutheran 20 years ago would have stopped morning with me, and instead told me the truth!


  8. I agree with Joe in comment #5. The positions of the LCMS are clear. If someone agrees with them and wants to join an LCMS congregation, I’m sure they would be welcome. If a congregation agrees with them, I’m sure there is an existing process for the pastor and congregation to join.

    Frankly, I hope that ELCA congregrations that don’t agree with the recent votes don’t leave. I hope that they can minister to and teach others in their own organization to the point that they can turn around the vote in their next convention. Failing then, they would be in a more prepared position to leave.

  9. The elca congregations who “aren’t happy” with the homosexuality decision aren’t likely to move because of it. Where would they put their other “baggage”… women in the pulpit, etc.? Their disbelief in the authority of Scripture carried to the end is disbelief in the saving work of Christ.

    [Think about it! If you consider Genesis to be a myth, with no literal Adam and Eve committing the first sin, why would you need Christ?]
    Approval of homosexuality in the pulpit is just the latest variant on, “Did GOD really say….?”
    I would disagree that the lcms positions are “clear”! On paper, maybe! But how many lcms churches do you have to visit before you find one which practices closed communion, teaches Law and Gospel and the difference, provides the Sacraments and invites individuals to confess their sins instead of “allowing that perhaps they’ve made some mistakes here and there?
    Our problems differ in degree!

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.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.