Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Disturbing Trend in ELCA

As a life-long Lutheran, and as a LC-MS pastor committed to Holy Scripture and our Lutheran Confessions, I felt compelled to share some thoughts about what I see as some disturbing trends in the ELCA. My purpose is to encourage discussion and debate among its lay people. There are many things that are troubling to me and I would also hazard a guess are also troubling to many inside the ELCA.

There is much that unfortunately separates the LCMS and ELCA, but three main issues come to mind. They are: first, the role of women in the church, namely women as pastors; secondarily, the openness to the gay/lesbian movement and along with that ordaining of homosexual clergy and thirdly, the altar/pulpit fellowship that has been extended to many non-Lutheran churches over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, what I have learned in my discussions with other pastors in the LC-MS, open and honest discussion is often extremely difficult. It is fair to say that the LC-MS and the ELCA are not going to come together on these issues. Those who feel strongly about what they believe are not going to change their minds. The LC-MS and the ELCA are operating, it would seem, on two fundamentally different understanding of the Word of God and our Lutheran Confessions. There is not space here to include all my reasons for why the LC-MS believes what it does. Here’s my view. You are welcome to disagree. The bottom line seems to be: all of the above items, are the result of caving in to the pressures of the world. The ELCA has allowed itself to be manipulated by the cultural fads of our day.

To those within the ELCA, if you are not happy with your church body, let me remind you of what question #179 says in Catechism, Letter B, “We should be faithful to that visible church, or denomination, which professes and teaches all of the Bible’s doctrine purely and administers the sacraments according to Christ’s institution,” and also Letter C, “We should avoid false teachers, false churches, and all organizations that promote a religion that is contrary to God’s Word.”

At St. John’s, in Strongsville, we are committed to that which is fundamental: God’s Word, our Lutheran Confession and Liturgy. If you are not happy with your church, I encourage you to visit http://www.lutheranliturgy.org/. Type in Ohio and find many churches committed to traditional and confessional Lutheran teaching and practice. If you are happy with the decisions made by the ELCA leadership, then you are not probably reading this article. But, if you are not happy, maybe now is the time to reconsider your affiliation with the ELCA. God’s blessings to all.
Pastor Jim Haugen