“It’s Déjà vu All Over Again”—Yogi Berra

I watched part of Rev. Matthew Harrison’s powerful witness to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee regarding the HHS Decisions. One congressman in his peroration pointed out to the panel that not one of the clergy was a woman, thereby insinuating their witness was suspect. He had played one of the trump cards of liberal Protestantism which is enshrined in the Constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Section 5.01, “Principles of Organization”:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall be one church. This church recognizes that all power and authority in the Church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ, its head. Therefore, all actions of this church by congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization shall be carried out under his rule and authority in accordance with the following principles…

At least 10 percent of the members of these assemblies, councils, committees, boards, or other organizational units shall be persons of color and/or persons whose primary language is other than English. Processes shall be developed that will assure that in selecting staff there will be a balance of women and men, persons of color and persons whose primary language is other than English, laypersons, and persons on the roster of ordained ministers. (5.01, paragraph F)

The ELCA has narrowly, parochially, and utterly dogmatically defined the rule and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to include a quota system for that Church body, and so overtly suggesting that His Word calls for said system. I had blissfully not thought about the quota system for years until I heard the congressman today. I bring this up for the following reasons:

1. Not many of the laity and maybe even my colleagues know about the quota system. The Constitution was adopted April 30, 1987, soon after the merger.

2. I think that the other mainline Protestant church bodies have not even gone as far the inclusion of a quota system as a church body bearing the name “Lutheran”.

3. This is another case of legislating the Gospel and so confusing Law and Gospel and the two Kingdoms.

4. But here’s the rub: once that card is played, the sense is, game over. It is utterly rigid. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus famously said, “Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.” It has been curtailed in the churches and in the public square it is also proscribed and something fills the lack of moral clarity: the new secular orthodoxy.

What is the new secular orthodoxy in the ELCA and the public square? What is it’s authority? Part of the answer: Experience. One’s experience as a Hispanic, a homosexual, an African-American, a woman is authoritative:  if I think my experience as fill-in-the-blank is not ‘affirmed’ by say, the Bible, then my experience of oppression must trump any societal norm and the Bible for that matter, which  says otherwise. It seems to be based upon Marxist ideology of class struggle and in fact the resolution to such struggle is by legislating it in the ELCA with voting power blocks.

Then the next morning after the congressional testimony,  on The Today Show (2/10/2012),  a reporter and a commentator speaking about the congressional committee meeting  said the following (not verbatim but close): “Look it is all men speaking on women’s health issues.” “It shows how far we still have to go.” I know that the clergy were not speaking to “woman’s health issues” but conscience and the 1st Amendment.  Truth is a recurring  casualty  in the media and the intent is clear: we will have our way and it’s just a matter of time.   Or so they think. This alien hermeneutic is part and parcel of many Christian denominations. It is interesting when orthodox Christians speak about political issues the cry is “separation of church and state”, yet watching TV, it is clear that we have a union of Church and State. And the ELCA in its constitution sanctions this alien hermeneutic and it is part of the State Church. Once orthodoxy is optional, then a new orthodoxy will be prescribed.  It was for me déjà vu all over again.

What’s to be done? On Transfiguration Sunday, year B of the Lectionary, the Epistle Reading is 2 Corinthians 3: 12-18, 4: 1-6. One of the verses I have gone back to time and time again:

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”



“It’s Déjà vu All Over Again”—Yogi Berra — 8 Comments

  1. They knew about it in South Carolina, where the ***A churches were told by Higgins Rd to acquire a 10% black membership. My friend, a native South Carolinian, was furious. She said, “The black people in South Carolina have their own churches which they are not going to abandon because some white guy in Chicago thinks his church should be racially diverse.”

  2. After having a good Sunday breakfast I discussed the post with my Wife and here are some of my thoughts. The ELCA is a star that is going dark. Most of her members are either unaware, don’t care, in denial, or cannot bring themselves to leave. The ELCA corpse is a object lesson: the forces of evil are strongly pulling at the skirts of the LCMS. Study the ELCA, look at the sick body, learn about Her sickness so you do not eat of the same poison that is slowly killing Her. The poster of this is an authority on the slowly dying Star. Question Him. Documentation is available, read. The ELCA is a dying object lesson: look long and hard are you next. The only inoculation is educate every member of the LCMS.

    This brings a few broad thoughts on the LCMS. Steadfast Lutherans has documented the LCMS ” Problems ” the only reason I bring this up is our President can only do so much, he is constrained in ways you could never imagine. He is doing all he can. The only answer is an educated Church. Pastors this is on you. Oversight at our seminaries. The result of the lack of the above in short is the present ELCA.

    The common ground of the LCMS is the Bible with historic Book of Concord interpretation or rest assured we WILL be the next ELCA!

    That Seminex symbol the mighty trunk and the fresh sprig…..how prophetic, but not the way they thought……..


  3. “…if I think my experience as fill-in-the-blank is not ‘affirmed’ by say, the Bible, then my experience of oppression must trump any societal norm and the Bible for that matter, which says otherwise.”

    A similar trump card was played by Mark Hanson in a white letter [is that now an insenstive label?] passed to me by one of his members who finally had enough and came back to Missouri. In the letter, Hanson was appealing to his people on both sides of the issue to respect the bound conscience of those on the other side. This lady came to me asking if she was sinning by not respecting the conscience that would lead a brother or sister away from God’s clear word. After studying what Hanson wrote, I could only conclude ELCA had elevated conscience above the Word of God.

  4. I think Luther was talking about “conscience informed by the Word of God” when he spoke about the dangers of “going against conscience.

    elca consciences, insofar as they have any, are informed by the spirit of the times,
    NOT a reliable indicator of right and wrong behavior.

    To the inevitable protest that “many elca members are unwitting dupes” or something similar, I say they would also have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to know their synod is off the rails. Or not care. I don’t know which it is, (and most of my relatives are indicted hereby).

  5. I doubt that the congressman had any idea which churches allow women pastors, or if any churches allowed women pastors.

    His contention was to visually draw attention to the fact that women were not there, thus implying that all women would be insulted by the panel’s make-up.

    His game wasn’t religious–it was a statement reflecting the stereotypical vision of liberals that all women support abortion.

    Let’s stick with the real enemy (total secularism, and a nation trying to force God out of her borders) rather than seek reasons to blame fellow Christians for the mess in Washington.

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