ELCA Splinter Group CORE to Constitute a New Church this Week but Falls Short on Scriptural Authority, by Pr. Rossow

Earlier this week we ran a post about a federation of congregations called the LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ). This coming week another group of Lutherans is organizing only this time it is resulting in an actual denomination. The Lutheran CORE group is heading up the effort to constitute this new denomination, the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). Here is the report from their recent newsletter.

More than 1,000 Lutherans from throughout North America will gather Aug. 26-27 in suburban Columbus, Ohio, to form a new church body for confessional Lutherans in North America. The annual Convocation of Lutheran CORE will adopt a constitution and proposals that will give birth to the North American Lutheran Church [NALC].

 They are being formed out of another preceding federation called CORE (A Community of Confessing Lutherans). Like the LCMC, CORE is not a denomination. CORE has been around for several years. They formed in reaction to growing heterodoxy in the ELCA over the years. (CORE’s original rationale for existence is similar to what the ACELC is doing in the LCMS, forming a group of congregations in response to heterodox practice and teaching within the parent denomination.)* Given the most recent decisions on sexuality in the ELCA, CORE has now seen the need to create a denomination and so they are holding a constituting convention.

Here is what they are committed to:

Both Lutheran CORE and the NALC will be centered on four key attributes: Christ-Centered; Mission-Driven; Traditionally-Grounded, and Congregationally-Focused.

 The issue as CORE sees it and for that matter as the LCMS sees it, is the authority of Scripture.

Those involved with Lutheran CORE note that the problems in the ELCA are really not about sexual behavior but rather about an ongoing movement away from the authority and teaching of the Bible throughout the ELCA.

As an example of the changes in the theology of the ELCA, some have pointed to a synod-sponsored worship service July 25 in San Francisco that received seven gay, lesbian, and transgender persons as ELCA pastors. Biblical language for God was removed from the liturgy. Parts of the service addressed God as mother and used female pronouns for God. The service began with an ELCA bishop “confessing” the sins of “our church” when it upheld Biblical teaching on sexuality.

Some ELCA congregations have already voted to join the NALC even though the church body does not yet exist. Many more congregations are expected to join as the NALC takes shape. More than 275 congregations have joined Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ since August of 2009. LCMC is an association of Lutheran churches. Lutheran CORE and the NALC have committed to a close working relationship with  LCMC. Congregations can be members of both LCMC and the NALC.

CORE is similar to the LCMC and elects a Moderator at its leader. The NALC on the other hand is a church and instead of a mere Moderator will have at its head a Bishop who it will elect next week.

The LCMS at the convention in Houston last month commended groups like CORE and the NALC for their stand against the ELCA’s recent decisions on sexuality. Such a commendation needs to be properly understood however. It is not much more than the LCMS commending the Southern Baptists for upholding the doctrine of the Trinity, were we to do that. We commend CORE for standing against apostate decisions in the ELCA but there is still much that is lacking in CORE and NALC. Until they affirm the inerrancy of Scripture and reject their current practice of ordaining women, they are not walking in concord with the Scriptures and are to be kept at a safe distance.

This new NALC denomination is a house of cards. They have a decent hand – the four principles described above – but it is still just a house of cards because it is not built on the inerrancy of Scripture. Without inerrancy, the teaching that the Scriptures are without error, the door is still left open for any unscriptural doctrine to make its way into the denomination. Without inerrancy the house of cards can collapse at any moment. For the moment it is a little stronger than the house of cards known as the ELCA but it is still built on the instability and selfishness of human reason rather than on the pure Word of God.

The NALC views the Scriptures like a menu. They have chosen sexual purity off the menu of Scripture but have decided not to choose the Scriptural teaching on limiting the office of the ministry to men. The Scriptures are not a menu but the in their entirety are the revealed truth of God.

The NALC could learn a lot from the LCMS on the authority of Scripture but here is something the LCMS could learn from NALC. From their Q and A section in their recent newsletter (p. 10)

Will the NALC have a large bureaucratic structure and a large national headquarters? No. The NALC will be very lean structurally, but there will be enough structure to help congregations with their ministries. The NALC will focus on assisting the ministry of congregations, not on congregations assisting the national church body.

This is what the Blue Ribbon Task Force should have been proposing but instead proposed changes that turn the LCMS into one large corporate/church growth type of a synod. The Task Force decided to streamline authority but the issue is not streamlined authority. The real issue is just simply streamlining. The Blue Ribbon Task Force had in mind a strong presidency geared toward changing the LCMS into a mission-driven (i.e. sacrifice nearly everything at the altar of church growth) denomination rather than just streamlining the bureaucracy and staying focused on getting the message straight and getting the message out.

The founding of the NALC is a monumental occasion in world Lutheranism. We too commend them for taking a stand against the ELCA but we also plead with the NALC to return to the pre-Enlightenment Lutheranism of our grandfather’s church that received the Scriptures from God as the pure teaching of the faith and upheld those Scriptures in all of their truth.

(You can read more about CORE and the NALC at the CORE website.)

*I was a signer of the ACELC’s original letter but with the election of Rev. Harrison to the presidency of the LCMS I no longer believe an association of congregations is needed. The ACELC has Scriptural standards of doctrine and practice to which I fully assent but their call for an association of congregations is now debatable

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 Splinter Group CORE to Constitute a New Church this Week but Falls Short on Scriptural Authority, by Pr. Rossow — 30 Comments

  1. So here is the difference between the NALC and LCMS?

    The LCMS believes in the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture. We believe the homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so. Because we believe the Bible we also believe that the cross of Christ and the forgiveness He earned is the solution for homosexuality, as it is for all sins, as that forgiveness works through the Means of Grace.

    NALC believes homosexuality is wrong, apparently, on personal grounds since they do not believe in the foundation inerrancy of Scripture. They seem to accept accept Scripture in so far as and because it says homosexuality is wrong. But what foundation does such a view give for offering help to individuals and families impacted with this problem?

    You guys do realize that one of the most powerful gay-activist arguments goes something like this, “The only reason Christians accept the Levitical prohibitions against homosexual intercourse is that Christians hate homosexuals.” Forming such an organization for such a reason only confirms such statements and adds fuel to the fire.

    Unless the NALC can accept all of Scripture, including what makes them uncomfortable, such as the command against the ordination of women, then such groups as this only make it more difficult for confessional churches who really do base the prohibition of homosexuality on Scriptural grounds alone.

    Sorry, but I don’t think we should be commending NALC or CORE for their stand against homosexuality since it is being done for the wrong reason, personal animosity rather than faith in Scripture. The last thing we need to be doing is supporting animosity rather than sound doctrine.

  2. Andrew,

    Great point about the “hate” issue!

    I personally would not commend the NALC and CORE for the reasons you give. As a church body that wants to keep lines of communication open with these sorts of Lutherans in the hope that we can convince them of the importance of inerrancy the commendation is probably a good thing. When I sit down with someone I disagree with on a given issue in hopes of working it out, it is always a good thing to start with the things that ones agrees on.


  3. This new NALC denomination is a house of cards.

    And tossing out a few E_CA joker cards, but keeping others in the framework, isn’t going to make this new Lufauxran spawn orthodox or any more stable.

  4. So, . . . what is their position on the ordination of women to the pastoral office?

  5. @elnathan the younger #4
    As I understand it from those in this area who will be joining, they still find it okay for women to be pastors. I do believe that have a woman on their steering committee and planing board. I have the thinking that in about 10 years they will be right back were the elca is today!!

  6. For what it’s worth, the leadership of CORE *has* approached the whole homosexuality issue from the standpoint of the authority of the Scriptures. “It’s wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong.” The executive director (or whatever) of CORE gave a paper at the Symposia last January, and he got a standing O because he was saying that the problems in the ELCA are precisely a matter of the authority of Scripture. He said things that sure sounded like he/they support the concept of inerrancy or something very like it.

    *However*, in the Q+A following, there were some pointed questions regarding women’s ordination, and he and CORE waffled.

    I suspect the problem is that so many of the parish pastors of the ELCA have received *so little* honest-to-God training in the Scriptures (see, e.g., an “editorial” by an ELCA sem student writing a letter to his home congregation explaining why he had to leave the ELCA sem and the ELCA itself and come to CTSFW–ca. 2000 or 2001), and *so much* Hist./High. Criticism and all their (illogical and unfounded) assumptions/postulates, that they are caught in no-man’s land, and, so far, have been unable to sort through the implications of their own theological “rebellion”. I get the impression that, in the end, *they* see themselves not so much as a *theological* “reformation”, but an *ecclesiastical* one.

    By the grace of God, with friendly (but not compromising one iota) encouragement and discussion with the *best* of the LCMS, many of them may well be worked through those Scriptural issues by the Holy Spirit, and come all the way back to orthodox Christianity/confessional Lutheranism.

  7. Pastor Rossow,
    Inasmuch as your relationship with ACELC has been the subject of “He said…”, “No, he told me…” exchanges in several places, you might have done better than to tack your explanatory statement on to an elca topic, which some of us may not even follow.


  8. Rev. David Mueller :
    For what it’s worth, the leadership of CORE *has* approached the whole homosexuality issue from the standpoint of the authority of the Scriptures. “It’s wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong.” The executive director (or whatever) of CORE gave a paper at the Symposia last January, and he got a standing O because he was saying that the problems in the ELCA are precisely a matter of the authority of Scripture. He said things that sure sounded like he/they support the concept of inerrancy or something very like it.

    Well I do hope that this movement does bring them around to a full acceptance of the inerrancy of Scripture. Right now they are saying things that are close to the inerrancy of Scripture but not quite there – they still have wiggle room just short of accepting actual inerrancy.

    The thing I worry about is that acceptance of the authority of Scripture without acceptance of the inerrancy of Scripture still leaves the individual in control of what will and will not be accepted as authoritative.

    If they are able to demonstrate a real reliance on Scripture in all areas then praise God. I know I will be praying for them to move in that direction.

    If, however, they demonstrate a tendency to accept certain portions of Scripture as authoritative and others as not then the witness of the Church becomes yet more muddied and difficult to defend against the arguments of the world. If that happens then they will become just one more example the gay culture can point to and say, “see, Christians just hate homosexuals.” this is what I have been concerned about since the vote last year, that any splinter groups would be appear as anti-gay rather than pro-Scripture.

    Basically, they really need to work hard to broaden the separation from the ELCA beyond this one issue – which is going to be hard to do because of the temptation to include a wide variety of individuals who have different view points on other issues but are united on this one. I hope and pray they can overcome that temptation even if it means lesser support in the short term.

  9. Unfortunately and sadly, these groups only differ from the old ELCA in terms of not approving of homosexuality and the form of organization. That’s about it. They haven’t recanted on their ecumenism, historical criticism, female pastors, charismatic movement, or gospel reductionism.

  10. Just a thought: my husband (former ELCA and Luther Sem grad) says that for ELCA congregations and the LCMC and NALC congregations that come out of them, women pastors are just so much a fact of church life (like women doing the reading in most LCMS congregations) that few who grew up in the church really consider it a live issue or bother thinking about the rationale for or against it. How many of us in the LCMS think about the rationale for or against girl acolytes? I’m not saying there’s any equivalence here, just that once something becomes accepted and part of your mental background, you just take it for granted and have a hard time imagining a church without female pastors. So, unfortunately, it’s not like groups breaking off from the ELCA would ever consider reevaluating the issue.

  11. @andrew #1

    Andrew, I have been following your posts on BJS with great interest. You have spoken eloquently and sensitively to the issue of homosexuality in the church. You have often been a “voice crying in the wilderness”–I appreciate your comments–as you have “nailed” the argument practically and theologically.

    However, in your post (#1) above, I seem to be missing something. Although I have spent only a little time reading the CORE and NALC material, I haven’t seen the “hate” rhetoric that you reference. Or as you put it, “Sorry, but I don’t think we should be commending NALC or CORE for their stand against homosexuality since it is being done for the wrong reason, personal animosity rather than faith in Scripture. The last thing we need to be doing is supporting animosity rather than sound doctrine.’

    Would you refer me to language, however nuanced, that supports your claim of animosity? Please understand–I’m not disagreeing with you–or even challenging you–I just didn’t see it, and I’d appreciate the assistance.


  12. Johannes,

    Let me give it a try. It is not hate speech per se but the logic behind the theology of CORE. It goes like this.

    1. NACL is leaving the ELCA because of its stand on sexuality.
    2. NACL does not believe the Bible is inerrant.
    3. Inerrancy is an unbiased approach to sexuality devoid of any hate because it is based on the inerrant word of God that tells us how to act sexually. It comes from outside of us and is not a part of our bias.
    4. If NACL does not beleive in the inerrancy of Scripture and that it is the source of all truth and practice (e.g. their unscriptural position on women’s ordination) then it appears their approach to sexuality is based on some sort of bias and not on truth coming from outside them.
    5. For example, NACL has chosen a bias in favor of the women’s movement – they ordain women contrary to Scripture. But, NACL has taken a stand against practicing homosexuality. The bias that is seen has hate (by the radical left) is clear.

    Hope that helps…


  13. A central reason I returned to the LCMS is the authority of Scriptures in regards to ordination. And with that concern I have some other questions regarding the NALC and LCMC, which receives little media attention, secular or ecclesial, that someone might have an answer:

    1. As the NALC comes together, what is their understanding of inclusive language?
    What percentage of the NALC and LCMC congregations use Evangelical Lutheran Worship? (Remembering the ELW is an inclusified worship book)

    2. Will (are) the many ELCA ecumenical agreements be honored in the NALC and the LCMC, e.g. Joint Declaration, Formula of Agreement, the Moravians, Call to Common Mission and the most recent ecumenical agreement with the United Methodist Church, passed in the same churchwide assembly that the homosexual ‘marriage’ was accepted ? (BTW: that ecumenical vote was some 90% in favor by the same delegates who were dead set against the re-writing of Scriptures and Confessions regarding marriage.)

    3. Will the other various ELCA social statements be honored as well?

    4. Will “communion of all the baptized” continue?

  14. @Johannes #11
    Pastor Rossow did a good job of answering.

    I do have to apologize. I probably put things badly. I don’t really feel CORE or NACL hate homosexuals. Maybe even the word “animosity” was a little too strong. “Biased” probably would have been better.

    However, it is really important the those starting this new denomination of Lutheran’s understand how they will be seen by homosexuals, why they will be seen as hateful, and how being consistent with the use of Scripture is a necessity.

    I’ll try to squeeze this into one post – generally a full presentation on this takes about 2 hours. This really is the hard part of dealing with the subject of homosexuality. There is so much back ground Christians often don’t realize when they approach this subject.

    Firstly, and the gay community would disagree with me on this, I believe there is a sense of guilt, often unacknowledged, which makes homosexuals hypersensitive to any criticism.

    Second, many homosexuals experienced a great deal of teasing as early as 2nd or 3rd grade and through out the school years when they were called queer or fag, increasing the hypersensitivity to criticism.

    Thirdly, most heard comments from parents and Christian adults that were highly negative of homosexuality without hearing much Gospel. Take a look at the Focus on the Family parenting forums sometime and see how many parents say something like, “I feel my child died when he/she said they were homosexual.”

    And, finally, the most visible contact from the church to the gay community are people like the Westboro Baptists who hold up signs that say “God hates fags.” Aside from “homosexuality is wrong” they don’t see other churches saying much of anything about homosexuality. This makes it hard to separate Westboro’s brand of “christianity” from the rest.

    I realize it’s unfair but there really is a tremendous amount of baggage affecting the way homosexuals hear the Church. Because of that baggage, when Christians say that we believe homosexuality is wrong they hear that as hate. I think that is why Christians are so often confused when homosexuals say, “you hate us,” because they are not aware of the baggage that created that perception.

    The only way to overcome that baggage is:

    1: Be consistent in the use of Scripture. As Pastor Rossow already pointed out, an inconsistent use of Scripture comes across as being biased against homosexuality. This includes not only women’s ordination but things like 6 day creation, the account of Jonah and the miracles of Christ. It also means being clear that we do not follow the OT regulations because they were fulfilled in Christ, not because they happen to be inconvenient. So far, NACL/CORE have not shown that consistency.

    2: Handle all sins equally. Right now the Core website is pretty much just about homosexuality. Other issues are handled only briefly. It comes across to a homosexually tempted person that this is a one-trick-pony denomination that is really only interested in the topic of homosexuality. I realize they are new and this is the most pressing issue. But as quickly as possible they have to start dealing with a broader ranger of sins.

    3: Be compassionate. Far too many Churches say they don’t hate homosexuals, that they really love them, but then do little to show compassion. It leaves homosexuals wondering exactly what Christian love really means – cause it doesn’t feel real loving when someone says they don’t hate you but then proceeds to ignore you. The CORE website has a good link to an article on loving homosexuals. But beyond that, most of what they say is simply that homosexuality is wrong. There is very little information on what they want to do to help people deal with homosexual temptation or how to help families with homosexual family members.

    That being said, I doubt most pastors or congregations realize the positive impact the LCMS can have on homosexuals who have contact with the Missouri Synod.

    I think we are the only major denomination that was not satisfied with just making an official declaration that homosexuality is wrong but actually officially adopted a plan to help homosexuals and their families – and at a national convention, no less. I am not aware of any single other denomination that was willing to do that.

    When one of the Wyoming circuits met with the press to make a statement about homosexual marriage last year, the reporter commented, “Wow, I didn’t know Christians could be so nice.”

    I know one woman who feels the LCMS helped her overcome lesbianism and saved her marriage because every week she came to church she was fed on grace, grace and more grace.

    I know that when I talk to pastors in the LCMS about homosexuality or confess to a pastor in the LCMS, the response I get is totally different than many of my friends in other denominations. LCMS pastors jump right to absolution where as my friends in other denominations often wind up being ignored by pastors who are afraid to deal with the topic. Some of my non-Lutheran friends are totally amazed at the way LCMS pastors handle this issue.

    I know we are far from perfect but at least the LCMS has the right foundation and the right attitude to really deal with this sin effectively. NACL/CORE just doesn’t seem to have that foundation at the moment. I really hope and pray they will listen and put that foundation into place. But if they do not then I hope we will approach any invitation to fellowship with them very very cautiously.

    sorry that was rather long – hope it clarified what I was trying to say.

  15. Any group or denomination that does not have justification by grace through faith on account of the person and work of Jesus Christ at its heart and center (material principle) is not and never will be truly Lutheran. The problem with these splinter groups is thqt they are often a reaction to a single issue; they miss the point. If the teaching on justification is correct, the correct teaching on Scripture will follow. If the teaching on justification is correct, the correct teaching on sexuality will follow. If the teaching on justification is correct, the correct teaching on ordination will follow.

    Luther says it this way:
    Here is the first and chief article:
    That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, “was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification” (Rom. 4[:25*]); and he alone is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1[:29*]); and “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53[:6*]); furthermore, “All have sinned,” and “they are now justified without merit by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . . by his blood” (Rom. 3[:23–25*]).
    Now because this must be believed and may not be obtained or grasped otherwise with any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us, as St. Paul says in Romans 3[:28*, 26*]: “For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law”; and also, “that God alone is righteous and justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.” Nothing in this article can be conceded or given up, even if heaven and earth or whatever is transitory passed away. As St. Peter says in Acts 4[:12*]: “There is no other name . . . given among mortals by which we must be saved.” “And by his bruises we are healed” (Isa. 53[:5*]).
    On this article stands all that we teach and practice against the pope, the devil, and the world. Therefore we must be quite certain and have no doubt about it. Otherwise everything is lost, and the pope and the devil and whatever opposes us will gain victory and be proved right. This is the chief article of our faith; and if you either do away with it, as the Jews do, or corrupt it, as the papists do, the church cannot exist. Nor can God keep His glory, which consists in this, that He is compassionate and wants to forgive sins and to save for the sake of His Son.
    For if the doctrine of justification is lost, the whole of Christian doctrine is lost. And those in the world who do not teach it are either Jews or Turks or papists or sectarians. For between these two kinds of righteousness, the active righteousness of the Law and the passive righteousness of Christ, there is no middle ground. Therefore he who has strayed away from this Christian righteousness will necessarily relapse into the active righteousness; that is, when he has lost Christ, he must fall into a trust in his own works. LW 26:9

  16. Regarding NALC, I fully agree they are splitting of from ELCA for the wrong reason(s). If NALC does not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, then they really have no firm ground to stand on. They are setting up man to be the judge rather than God. That is a very slippery slope.

    Regarding ECELC, my initial reaction was the same as your’s, Pastor Rossow. However, upon further reflection I have changed my mind. There are several reasons. One, just because Rev. Harrison has been newly elected to be the President of LCMS doesn’t change the fact that all of the problems and heteordox practices existing in some parts of LCMS have suddenly changed. The problems are all still there. Second, Rev. Harrison himself has called for groups that have differing views of Doctrine and Practice within Synod to begin a dialogue to iron out those differences. ACELC would certainly, in my opinion anyhow, qualify to be in that group for that discussion. Third, in our elation, and I am certainly elated, over Rev. Harrison’s election we have to remember that he only has a three year term. He will need to stand for re-election in 2013 and beyond. What if JF gets their man elected next time? Fourth, it is imperative those discussions get started as soon after Rev. Harrison’s inauguration as possible. I think with ACALC in existance and pushing for that dialogue, it can only help to speed up the start of those discussions. Fifth, once the discussions have begun ACELC can go a long way to keeping those discussions on track. Sixth, in the past when individual Pastors and/or laymen have spoken up, they have either been summarily dismissed or been persecuted. They are then largely forgotten. It’s much more difficult to dismiss or persecute when a big group is involved. A group such as ACELC will only strengthen President Harrison’s hand, not weaken it.

    If we don’t begin the dialogue then the LCMS will continue to decrease and weaken. The ACELC can enhance that dialogue.

  17. Here is an article that appeared in this morning’s Centre Daily Times (State College, PA) regarding some of the thinking of ELCA in State College.


    The issue seemes to be centered on homosexuality without reference to the problem of women ordination. One makes a statement questioning where the authority of faith should be, “What is the final authority of our faith,” asked Spring, of State College. “Is it the mood of the times or is it the Bible?” suggesting that perhaps they are looking in the right direction, but are they willing to go all the way back to scripture? Another refers to those who are upset with ELCA’s move as “disgruntled”

  18. @andrew #14

    Thank you. A comprehensive reply, and no “reading between the lines.” I thought Pr. Rossow’s explanation a bit of a stretch–and a leap of logic and syllogistic confusion, kind of like this:
    1. NACL is largely the result of ELCA policy on homosexual pastors
    2. NACL does not support inerrancy and authority of scripture entirely
    3. Therefore NACL hates homosexuals.

    Your explanation, though, is very thorough, even tho not two hours long, and is very lucid. I need to study it at some length. As usual, your words are well-chosen and non-confrontational. Thanks again–your voice is very important here.


  19. Has anyone read, “The Contemporary Debate on Homosexual Clergy” by Armin Wenz, translated by Holger Sonntag? Published by Lutheran World Relief and Human Care. I can’t find a publication date. ISBN-13: 978-1-934265-07-9.


  20. Johannes #18,

    You reduced to a syllogism what I kept from syllogistic form because it is not that simple and in so doing you overstated my conclusion. If I were to state it syllogistically, using your premises it would look like this:

    1. NACL is largely the result of ELCA policy on homosexual pastors
    2. NACL does not support inerrancy and authority of scripture entirely
    3. Therefore NACL is open to the charge of practicing (what extreme leftists would call) hate speech because thier explanation is not based on an objective source of truth.


  21. While I am thankful that those in the forming NALC are distancing themselves from the ELCA and her heretical decisions, I am concerned that this distancing is only temporary, as it misses the source of the symptoms: the lack of trust in the innerancy of Holy Scripture. A church body out on the sea can try to position itself in a callibrated spot between the ELCA and the LCMS, but without the needed anchor of innerancy, their ship will easily drift, whether sooner or later.

    I would like to see the NALC respond point by point to the book: “Women Pastors? The Ordination of Women in Biblical Lutheran Perspective: A Collection of Essays” – edited by Matthew C. Harrison & John T. Pless (Concordia). For that matter, it would be interesting to see how they would respond to: “Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? – by Wayne A. Grudem (2006, Good News Publishers).” To what degree would they be willing to discuss with LCMS, ELS, and WELS theologians just what they mean by not accepting the doctrine of inerrancy. Do they embrace the Historical Critical Method? Or do some accept inerrancy while others do not, yet they allow the lower standards in order to bolster their numbers? It would behove them to study history, and seeing what happened during the great ELCA experiment (1988-2009) where groups of Lutherans claimed to be one people via faux unity (agreeing to disagree). Are the pastors and congregant members in the NALC mature enough to ask the tough questions, and actually confront their differences and work through them, or are they satisfied to have a microsynod which will “drift with every wind of doctrine?”

  22. @Johannes #19
    What Dr. Wenz does in this book (if I remember correctly) is, on the one hand, to give an in-depth study of how homosexuality was moved from being a psychological disorder to being fully acceptable. So, he analyzes the nasty stuff that was published in the 1960s and 1970s to make homosexuality acceptable and “healthy” — to the point that psychiatrists can now get into trouble if they try to help homosexuals who desire to overcome their disorder. On the other hand, he discusses Scripture’s stance on the issue and counters a number of newer attempts to muddy the clear teachings on the issue, given that these attempts obviously have found a broad following in many church bodies in Europe and North America. He also, finally, points to pastoral ways of dealing with homosexuals in confession and absolution, God’s law and God’s gospel. — Great, important work!

    On the discussion regarding the attempts to form some type of confessional Lutheran church body on the ELCA side of the house, it does remind you of the attempts that were made in the 19th century (Krauth and others), just that those folks back then had other issues that somehow made it impossible for them to come around all the way.

    Certainly, women’s ordination is one of those issues today (and, remember, even in the Society of the Holy Trinity, another conservative, more high-church group in the ELCA, there are women pastors). However, I’d highlight even more brightly the doctrines of justification and the Lord’s Supper. Here the ELCA (and its predecessor bodies) on all levels and for several decades (!) now has completely sold out to the ecumenical mainstream — and, as has already been noted on this thread, even the “conservatives” that are vocal against “gender-neutral” bible translations etc., totally seem to miss the boat. The leaven of false doctrine has done its work once again.

    This does make it appear that we’re witnessing the clash of liberal vs. conservative Pietists, both of whom are long on morals (“social action” vs. “family values”) but quite short on the gospel in its comforting specificity: some kind of gospel is apparently good enough, need not be the gospel in its purity, also when it comes to the sacramental forms of this gospel. This is a culture clash, not a new reformation. Forming a church body on this narrow, moral basis would, indeed, be premature and, here I agree with Andrew, look quite biased against homosexuals (and, dare I say, Pharisaical?).

    Let’s hope and pray that the Spirit in God’s Word of the bible would illuminate and embolden confused, timid hearts and minds everywhere to embrace God’s whole truth, not just what’s personally comfortable or agrees with what “decent folks” believe back home.

  23. @Pastor Tim Rossow #20
    “Open to the charge” of practicing hate speech is one thing–even the LCMS has heard that in spite of our consistent biblical stance (as anyone who was at 2001 Convention may remember). It’s something quite different to claim that lack of support for Biblical inerrancy and authority makes the NACL’s stance necessarily hate-mongering, which is what you seemed to be saying in your post #12 above in point #4: “it appears their approach to sexuality is based on some sort of bias and not on truth coming from outside them.” I understand your point better, but it still seems a stretch. I concede that I stretched your point, also–and rather than strain at gnats, I’d rathr just call a truce.

    Here’s the link to “The Contemporary Debate on Homosexual Clergy” which is a free download. (Thanks to Rev. Sonntag for his post above and for the translation):

    Any way you slice it, NACL has a lot of thinking to do, lots of coming to terms with itself, and some serious theological reflection, as does CORE for that matter.


  24. A truce it is then.

    I was just so impressed with Andrew’s insightful point, even brilliant, that anything short of some objective standard will be seen in the post-modern world of the exertion of the will (Nitschze) as hatred, that I wanted to glom onto it.

    Of course the leftists do not accept the authority of Scripture but if they would just take a moment and understand the logic Andrew points to they would see why we can love the sinner but hate the sin. It is not personal (hate). It is about revealed matters (truth).

    I’m not a very good truce observer am I? OK – you get the last word, if you want it.


  25. @Pastor Tim Rossow #24

    Last word department:

    Hate, race, bigotry–these are all the cards that the left plays, no matter what the basis for the arguments against their beliefs. We do well to “not go there”.

    Here’s the last “last word”: Thanks


  26. Um – sorry to post after the last word has been given but@Holger Sonntag #22 and @Rev. Clint K. Poppe #15 point out something pretty important – the centrality of justification.

    80% of Christian kids and 90% of non-Christian kids see the Church as anti-homosexual. They are obviously picking up on something very negative.

    When kids beat me up for being “queer” in 8th grade they gave me a bloody nose and a few bruises. I got over it. Being called “fag” and “homo” repeatedly in 10th grade meant I had a pretty crappy year. But that was a long time ago.

    But what of the pastor or church which says homosexuality is a sin but does not apply the Gospel to the issue?

    Who really hates me more, my peers or the pastor who tells me I’m on the road to hell but does not show me the narrow door?

    Maybe what I said before about “hate” being to strong a word is wrong.

    Is it possible that we do need to “go there” and remind ourselves and our fellow believers that the essence of hate speech might be preaching the Law without the Gospel?

    sorry to throw a wrench in the works – just a thought that popped into my head.

  27. @andrew #26

    Your points are valid–no wrench as far as I’m concerned. In order to honor the truce I asked for–and received–I’m going to pass.


  28. The North American Lutheran Church has been born. The constitution was just adopted by a resounding voice vote by the 1100+ in attendance at the meeting in Columbus, OH.

  29. I applaud the LCMC and NALC for standing up for this and other issues they mention. If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

    Last I looked, it is not a sin to be a woman, therefore why not allow women pastors. But to deliberately invite homosexuality into the church does not seem like a good idea, as minimally, it does not demonstrate leadership by example.

    I wonder how the ELCA will respond WHEN (not if but when), the gay community forces the ELCA into performing homosexual marriages. Perhaps it has already started.

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