Recently I read an article at the Reporter Online about the continued discussions between the ELCA and LCMS regarding their “Cooperation in Externals”. This concept largely has to do with disaster relief, taking care of refugees and immigrants, and so forth. I have had it described to me in terms of working together in First Article (of the Creed) things. While the LCMS has tried to safeguard our confession of the Faith by referring to this work as “external”, the comments given by the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA reveal that they view our work together as something not so external.
From the article:
“There are too many people longing to hear the Gospel as we Lutherans understand it,” Hanson said. “It would be tragic if we become so preoccupied with our differences that they would come in the way of our Gospel proclamation.”
This does not sound like the ELCA views our work together as anything in “externals” but as work together in Gospel proclamation. Please note the relativism (“as we Lutherans understand it”) and reductionism (making the many great differences separate to the “Gospel”) involved in this statement as well.
This begs the question: Is it still cooperation in externals when only one side views it as external?
I understand that this is a highly charged debate, but it needs to be had.
As one who has a decent amount of interaction with the other Lutherans out there, I think this LCMS working relationship with the ELCA is a hindrance to further discussion (and maybe someday walking or working together) with those who we are much closer theologically to.
I would ask that you include President Harrison, Dr. Collver, and Dr. Lehenbauer in your prayers especially on this matter.