Paul McCain for pointing me to Al Mohler's Blog about what was said in the rite of reception of lesbian pastors in the ELCA who were now placed upon the roster of that church body. To be honest I have been ignoring this whole phenomenon because it is too easy to comment upon and it is something I have grown tired of hearing and tired of talking about. But...
In that rite of reception, the church confessed “We have fallen short in honoring all people of God and being an instrument for that grace . . . . We have disciplined, censured and expelled when we should have listened, learned and included.”
Now the caveat in this whole thing is that this is a conscious decision to ignore Scripture, an unbroken tradition within the Christian Church, and Lutheran history and confession and choose to listen to the voice of the world, the culture, and feelings. This is a inclusive vision of the church in which those not welcomed are precisely those who pay attention to what Scripture says, tradition has taught, and Lutherans have confessed.
By confessing the "wrong" of not ignoring Scripture, tradition, and Lutheran confession sooner, the ELCA has embraced the vagaries of marrying the spirit of the moment -- a relationship which requires divorcing and remarrying every time the age catches another spirit. What is seen as the triumph of inclusiveness is in reality the triumph of self over the voice of God's Word, the triumph of the moment over standing with tradition, and the triumph of a nominal confession in which words and spirit are secondary to other agendas not found in that confession.
I have often asked my ELCA friends who protest if it is just about sex. I am assured it is not. But, one or two have admitted that it was not so much that the wanted a different ELCA but an ELCA which had not gone as far as it did -- a matter of degree instead of difference. I applaud them for their honesty but it only reinforces the issue and problems there. If we can venture a little far from Scripture, tradition and confession, a matter of degree instead of difference, then it is a timetable issue and not a fundamental disagreement with the rationale and decision of the ELCA.
Now, mind you, the LCMS is by no means perfect and we have a closet full of skeletons. We too abandoned Scripture, tradition, and Lutheran confession when we gave status and legitimacy to lay presidency at the Eucharist. This is the result of listening to the situation, culture, felt needs, and spirit of the age instead of the unchanging word of Scripture, the consistent voice of tradition, and the clear voice of confession. So I am not vindicating Missouri here. What is different is that Missouri's error, as egregious as it is, does not endanger the Gospel as clearly the ELCA decision does.
Who wants to be wrong and in style instead of being right but out of step with God? We all do, of course; it is the voice of the old adam speaking still with a powerful voice of temptation. To this voice we must learn to say no and to the times when we have heeded its words we must learn to speak repentance.