Progress in externals… updated

I just had the chance to read through the Reporter article on the February 8th meeting between the ELCA and LCMS and their cooperation (Committee on Lutheran Cooperation).  The article can be found here.

This article comes after seeing a number of other articles on the continued downfall of the ELCA.  They just elected a new female bishop in Minnesota (first such bishop in the Minneapolis Synod of the ELCA).  The Star Tribune article on that can be found here.  They also have been actively opposing an Amendment in Minnesota which would define marriage as being between one man and one woman.  The article is here.  Please note in this article the headline simply states the word “Lutherans” without distinction.  Also notable is this is the new “ELCA militant” promoting gay marriage, which if I remember it correctly, was also the decision of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA.

The Reporter article sounds like our Synodical leadership is beginning to close the door to working with the ELCA in order to either restore or preserve our confession of the Truth.  This break in cooperation is right now true in the areas of Disaster Response, military chaplaincy, and institutional chaplaincy.  I commend this sadheartedly because it seems as though from the article that the ELCA is not hearing the “law” spoken through our actions of breaking ties.   Bishop Hansen of the ELCA even says that they will start working with their other ecumenical partners more:

“While I regret that The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has taken action to discontinue our shared ministries, that work continues to be a priority for us as the ELCA with existing partners, and we will continue to look for ways to do that with Lutherans and ecumenical partners,” said Hanson.  (from the Reporter article)

Also it is notable that the ELCA continues to talk about being committed to conversation with the LCMS.  This is similar to the serpent being committed to continued conversation with Eve.  Conversation does not always bring benefit, sometimes it can be the thing that drags you into the pit.

Sad though it seems, the parting of the ways appears to be beginning in official channels.  Thank you President Harrison and all those who are working hard to figure out how these things need to be done in order to preserve our confession.

 

UPDATE: Some have asked for this, so I include it, a comparison of the ELCA and LCMS which I did a few years ago.  The web links in it are probably not going to work since both ELCA and LCMS have redone their websites (without keeping old links active).   Comparison of the ELCA and LCMS Doc

 

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

Comments

Progress in externals… updated — 32 Comments

  1. If the X of the gospels is not enough for the ELCA then false X’s will have t do, to the perishing of how many souls!?

    What prayer must ascend to deliver souls from the antichrists in their midst.

  2. The XXXA has chosen its own handbasket for its downhill slide. The Missouri Synod has no reason to climb in or follow.

  3. Simply because the “L” in ELCA allegedly stands for “Lutheran,” does not necessarily mean they are Lutheran in any real sense of the term. Thus, why should LCMS cooperate with these apostates at any level? Hopefully, in view of Pres. Harrison’s words at the cited CLC meeting, no further such meetings will be held. It’s bell, book and candle time for ELCA.

  4. As I continually told the LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces, if we’re going to continue working closely with the ELCA, we might as well be in cahoots also with the UCC, the Episcopals, the Reformed and all the others with whom the ELCA is in full pulpit and altar fellowship. The only reason I can see for staying in bed with them is a sentimental one: many old timers in both synods are close friends and are clinging to the relationship we had before ELCA left Lutheranism.

  5. Definition of “conversation”: Allowing liberals to try to talk you out of your well formed opinions based on scripture and reason, in order to make you more “accepting and nice,” and less “cold-hearted and closed-minded.” We don’t believe in certain things. They do. What’s the point in talking about them, if the hope isn’t that one party will change their mind? You can’t compromise on these issues. You can’t have women’s ordination and NOT have it at the same time. Rather than have a conversation, let’s just do the honest thing: Agree to disagree and remain in separate parties. There’s nothing wrong or unfair about that at all.

    Personally, I’d like to see more conversations about ecumenical partnership between the LCMS and WELS, ELS. What divides these groups seems much less significant.

  6. If ELCA churches and individuals throughout the country continue to vote to leave the ELCA, what will be left in 20 years. What will be left of the other denominations that currently enjoy altar and pulpit fellowship with the ELCA. How is the LCMS marketing itself as an attractive alternative.

    Pop a bowl of popcorn and watch the Episcopal church destroy itself here:

    http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/

    Check this website every so often to see the list of ex-ELCA churches grow:

    http://davidbarnhart.blogspot.com/2012/01/revised-list-of-congregations-voting-to.html

    I have not been able to find a website that chronicles the decline of the UMC. Does anyone have a link to share?

    How long will we have to wait before the NALC and the LCMC finally figure out that in order to be taken seriously as truly ex-ELCA congregations, they need to completely abandon the practice of Historical/Higher Criticism of the Bible. Until that happens, these new denominations will always have the stigma of promoting ELCA theology minus support for homosexuality.

  7. LaMarr Blecker :
    Simply because the “L” in ELCA allegedly stands for “Lutheran,” does not necessarily mean they are Lutheran in any real sense of the term.

    “Evangelical Lutheran” is a belief, not a denomination. Evangelical Lutherans believe that Holy Scripture is the inspired Word of God and the norm for faith and that that the Lutheran Symbols are correct interpretations of Scripture.

    Certainly, the ELCA and LCMS agree on lots of matters. But, I have yet to see any substantive argument to suggest that the ELCA and LCMS disagree on what it means to be an “Evangelical Lutheran”.

    Those things that divide us stem from the sinful hearts of all Lutherans – irrespective of stripe. That which ought to unite us is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which we all claim to believe. We can, as Miguel suggests, agree to disagree. An ecumenical relationship ought to be the standard. If we cannot agree to an ecumenical relationship, we at least ought to be able to agree to live the Gospel together as we do in programs like Lutheran World Relief etc. etc.

  8. Miguel :

    Personally, I’d like to see more conversations about ecumenical partnership between the LCMS and WELS, ELS. What divides these groups seems much less significant.

    WELS and ELS believe that it is a sin to pray with any Christians outside their membership. If members of those other denominations refuse to pray with you, then it would be impossible for the LCMS to have altar and pulpit fellowship. Under those circumstances, how much cooperation in externals could the LCMS ever have.

  9. @Johan Bergfest #7 I am afraid you do not understand the core difference between an apostate body and an orthodox one. We have nothing in common with the formal positions the ELCA takes on doctrine, Biblical inerrancy or even the Gospel itself. Te Deum that we are FINALLY moving away from them. With their extreme position of their Historical Critical view of Scripture, their denial of the definitive Divinity of Christ and their complete denial of any moral standard found in Scripture we simply cannot work with them lest others mistake us for them and lose the opportunity to see our important differences and most importantly to hear the clear teachings of Gods Word from us. This is what is meant to be faithful in Word and Sacrament. I say keep it up and cut all the stings we have attached to them.

  10. @Miguel #5 Exacrtly. WE can never compromise the fundamentals, never. That is where we are in the visible church right now even as we are in our secular politics. You cannot “get along” because the left is committed and willing to eliminate our fundamentals. There is in fact a very clear choice. In the Church you are either orthodox and confessional or you are not. In our political world you are either a Constitutionally Limited Republic man or you are not. It is not a coincidence that as the Church has become apostate our miraculous REPUBLIC is at a cross roads as well.

    Taking a stand against partnering with the apostate is a given as we faithfully serve our wonderful Lord and Savior. Some are afraid of a negative impact on our growth over these kinds of “stubborn” stands. But this is the preferred position in Gods kingdom rather than having massive numbers based on human reason as the spiritual guide; “the end of which is (eternal) death”.

  11. @Johan Bergfest #7

    You are correct that the “Evangelical Lutheran Church” is a belief system and not a single denomination. That’s why the Book of Concord is called “The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.” That’s why our pastors “confess the Unaltered Augsburg Confession to be a true exposition of Holy Scripture and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church” in their ordination vows. Our pastors are not beholden to a single denomination, but to the belief of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. But this doesn’t make the “Extremely Liberal Church in America” a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

    You say that “Evangelical Lutherans believe that Holy Scripture is the inspired Word of God and the norm for faith and that that the Lutheran Symbols are correct interpretations of Scripture.” You then go on to say that “I have yet to see any substantive argument to suggest that the ELCA and LCMS disagree on what it means to be an ‘Evangelical Lutheran’.”

    Here’s the argument you are looking for:

    The Bible

    – The ELCA claims on its website to believe that the Bible “is the written word of God.” But it does not lay out what this means. In practice, they accept all the tenets of the so-called “historical critical movement,” which claims that the Bible is a human book by human authors whose claims of divine interference cannot be taken at face value. The human authors were influenced by the times in which they lived, so that what they say about homosexuality and women’s rights does not apply to us today. Hence they can say they accept the Bible while completely ignoring Leviticus, 1 Corinthians, and Romans regarding homosexuality, and 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, and Titus regarding women.

    – The LCMS believes that the Bible is the word of God, particularly that it is inerrant (contains no errors of any kind). It is verbally inspired by God, infallible, inerrant, and all those other words that mean the Bible is 100% true and 100% God’s Word. The LCMS accepts everything the Bible teaches as fully relevant today, including teachings about homosexuality and women’s ordination.

    The Confessions

    – The ELCA claims on its website that:

    This church accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it In faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.
    This church accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church.

    Note the wordplay here. First, they call the Augsburg Confession a true witness to the “Gospel.” In other words, there can be more “true witnesses.” What do they mean by “Gospel?” We use Gospel as “Jesus’ work of saving us from sin, death, and the power of the devil by His atoning death on the cross.” They use it as “good stuff.” Second, they say that they “acknowledge as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession,” but they are in full altar-and-pulpit fellowship with church bodies which do not accept Articles IV (Justification) and X (Lord’s Supper) of the Augsburg Confession (among other errors). They also say that the other writings are “further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church,” not that they are “right expositions.” In other words, they leave the door open for there to be other “valid interpretations” and for the Augsburg Confession and other writings to disagree. Additionally, in practice (I couldn’t find anything online about this) the ELCA has a quatenus (“in as much as”) subscription to the Book of Concord. They subscribe to it in as much as it is a true witness to the Gospel. I could have a quatenus subscription to the Koran! It wouldn’t include very much, but it would be there nonetheless. Subscribing to something “in as much as” it is a true witness to the Gospel leaves the door open to say “I don’t subscribe to this part of Scripture because I don’t think it’s a true witness to the Gospel.” That’s the problem with a quatenus subscription.

    – The LCMS confesses the following about the Confessions:

    We accept the Lutheran Confessions as articulated in the Book of Concord of 1580 because they are drawn from the Word of God and on that account regard their doctrinal content as a true and binding exposition of Holy Scripture and as authoritative

    Everything in the Book of Concord is authoritative and is a true and binding exposition of the Bible. We can’t say that we disagree with a part of the Confessions because we don’t think it agrees with Scripture. We have to say that the way of interpreting Scripture in the Book of Concord is the correct way of interpreting Scripture.

    I hope this helps clear things up for you.

  12. Pardon my continued ignorance, but I have to ask a question: Is the ELCA (or XXXA, as Carl Vehse describes them) in joint altar and pulpit sharing fellowship with ANY other church in the United States that calls itself “Lutheran”? Or are the only pulpit sharing feelowships they have to include the Episcopals, the Reformed, the UCC, and other churches that at least have the honesty to not call themselves “Lutheran”? It seems to me that every other “Lutheran” church body in the US has abandoned them……

  13. @Rahn Hasbargen #14

    Their domestic partners are the Presbyterians, Reformed, UCC, Episcopals, Moravians, and Methodists. Internationally, most of their partners are Europeans state churches (almost all of which are union churches; the lone hold-out is Latvia, with which we are in fellowship) or small (mostly confessional) Lutheran churches in the developing world which don’t feel that they can really be choosey in their partners. Domestically, every real Lutheran body has abandoned them to their own devices.

  14. @Rahn Hasbargen #14

    Not that I know of. The ones in fellowship merged to become the e_ca. There is us, and WELS (still kinda big) but the other dozen or so are so small they are micro-synods. Some might not want to join with anyone. Because NALC and LCMC have split off, e_ca is ticked off with them, and from ALPB it sounds like they are not wlecome. e_ca is stopping dual rostering, removing people form pensions and health insurance. Not sure if or how long any joint projects the two break-aways groups will have with e_ca. So they are becoming rather lonely in the Lutheran world. But they have all there other partners: UCC, Reformed, Episcopal (who are becomeing a bad dying breed just like e_ca)…

  15. @Jason #16
    Who cares about that rule. A popular tactic of many conservative ELCA congregations is to vote to join the NALC or the LCMC and wait for the ELCA to kick them out. That method would be easier than the few key members of a disaffected congregation having to campaign to convince the rest of the congregation to vote to leave. Regarding pensions, I believe ex-ELCA pastors could simply transfer their pension funds to a NALC or LCMC plan.

    Regarding denominations in fellowship with the ELCA: Member congregations would lose their buildings if they were to vote to leave. At least the local ELCA congregations get to keep their buildings if they were to detach from the ELCA.

    I would love to see NALC and LCMC congregations make the jump to the LCMS or to the AALC.

  16. @Wallenstein #17
    “I would love to see NALC and LCMC congregations make the jump to the LCMS…”

    Me, too, but it would be quite a leap. Unfortunately, when these congregations left the ELCA, they chose then not to join the LCMS for a reason: They are basically ELCA, minus the homosexual thing. In other words, they still pick and choose for themselves which parts of the Bible are the Word of God and they dismiss the Confessions as quaint historical documents. As a result of their lack of respect for the authority of Scripture, they don’t mind ordaining women either, but they couldn’t quite bring themselves to ignore enough Scripture to embrace sodomy. They are far closer to fellowship with the ELCA than with the LCMS.

  17. @Wallenstein #18
    Two major issues for NALC/LCMC – Women’s ordination and open communion. These two show up repeatedly in the literature of the LCMC as issues for them that would put them in disagreement with the LCMS.

    Remember that the LCMC is over ten years old now – it was first formed in retaliation to the ELCA agreements with the Episcopal church (issues with apostolic succession requirements).

  18. As Mrs Hume points out, we have to carefully distinguish between mainline Protestants and mainline Protestant *leaders* (children and wolves).

  19. @Ted Crandall #20
    I should have added that many ELCA pastors with less than ten years left before they retire have little motivation to rally the pewsitters to change denominations.

    I still remain convinced that the NALC and the LCMC are still wrestling with doctrinal issues. This is the main reason why many LCMS pastors still bother posting on the (liberal ELCA pastor/layman dominated) ALPB forum. Perhaps some ex-ELCA pastors could be persuaded to abandon Historical/Higher Criticism. That is the hope, in any case.

    Remove Historical/Higher Criticism from the NALC/LCMC, and justification for practices such as women’s ordination, evolution, lodge membership, and open communion falls like a house of cards.

  20. @Wallenstein #24

    “Remove Historical/Higher Criticism from the NALC/LCMC, and justification for practices such as women’s ordination, evolution, lodge membership, and open communion falls like a house of cards.”

    This is most certainly true — for ELCA, too!

  21. mames :
    @Johan Bergfest #7 I am afraid you do not understand the core difference between an apostate body and an orthodox one. We have nothing in common with the formal positions the ELCA takes on doctrine, Biblical inerrancy or even the Gospel itself.

    To the contrary. I think I understand well the core differences between LCMS and ELCA. They have little to do with the confession of the Evangelical Lutheran church and a lot to do with the qualifiers that people – especially during the last half century – have added to (and, thereby, subtracted from) those confessions.

    You referenced an important one – the foundation for most of the others – “Biblical inerrancy”. That term is not in the Lutheran confessions and the teaching has its origins in the Calvinistic tradition. That term does not appear in Luther’s Small Catechism – the foundation document that Lutherans use to instruct people in the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. That term also does not occur in the vow that I took at confirmation – I confessed that I believe the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures are the inspired Word of God. To say more is to say less about God’s Word.

  22. @Johan Bergfest #26

    You wrote, “I confessed that I believe the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures are the inspired Word of God. To say more is to say less about God’s Word.”

    This is somewhat like the deceptive claim, “The Word of God is in the Bible.”

    The deception is revealed when the sentence is honestly completed: “The Word of God is in the Bible…along with some other stuff that is most certainly not the Word of God.”

    Now, when you say, “…the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures are the inspired Word of God,” exactly how do you define “the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures”? Do you believe the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures are in the Bible — along with some other stuff?

  23. @Johan Bergfest #26

    Take out all the other words people have thrown out to describe the difference. Do you believe that “the Bible is the Word of God”? The LCMS answers that with an emphatic “YES”; the ELCA answers that with a “eh… sort of yes, sort of no.”

    You are correct (as far as I remember) that the Confessions do not use the words “inerrant” or “infallible” to describe the Bible. That doesn’t actually mean anything. The Confessions don’t explicitly say anything about homosexuality, either. Do you know why? Because neither of these things was in controversy at that time. Why argue about something that no one disagrees about? At the same time, we do know that the Reformers believed that the Bible was inerrant, inspired, and all the rest based on the way they used it. They didn’t argue that “so-and-so didn’t actually write that, so we don’t have to believe that part of the Bible” or “Paul only wrote that because of his patriarchal culture.” The Reformers treated the Bible as truly 100% the Word of God, even if they didn’t feel the need to waste paper by writing it down.

  24. @Wallenstein #24
    Remove Historical/Higher Criticism from the NALC/LCMC, and justification for practices such as women’s ordination, evolution, lodge membership, and open communion falls like a house of cards.

    I’d be happy to start smaller: remove higher criticism from LCMS.

  25. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #21

    Remember that the LCMC is over ten years old now – it was first formed in retaliation to the ELCA agreements with the Episcopal church (issues with apostolic succession requirements).

    That motivated me to leave. I didn’t really understand the apostolic succession thing, but I did know that the ELCA was lying publicly by saying they agreed with the Episcopal position. They did not agree, but they were willing to lie and say that they did or at least require everyone to go along with and affirm something they didn’t really believe, so they could all be one big happy apostate family. Because to them it doesn’t matter what you believe, so long as everyone gets along and submits to the authority of what is currently popular.

  26. As someone who as left ELCA and now is in LCMS (with a brief stop in LCMC), I must say that probably the first step on my “right turn” was paying attention to the ELCA confession of faith. It seemed to obvious to me that if the ELCA acknowledges “as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession” that the ELCA is constitutionally required to either:
    1) Listen to those who refuse fellowship with her in christian brotherhood OR
    2) Clearly state how and why those bodies do not “accept the teachings of the UAC”

    Because of this, I who was teaching some adult classes at the time subscribed to Logia and started following some of the Lutheran Blogosphere.

    Of course, for those who have more explicit doctrinal standards for fellowship that the ELCA need not participate. But on the ELCA side, their constitution says they MUST. It does amaze me how few in the ELCA realize this, however.

    The ELCA background has many good orthodox teachers. Both Krauths. Jacobs. Lenski. Herman Preuss come to mind. There are also many problems documented here.

    Re: discussion between LCMS and WELS and ELS. Good to hear that it is happening.

    Now if only we in the LCMS can properly handle the church growth movement… ELCA Conservatives are afraid that LCMS is going off the deep end by going in bed with them.

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