Thursday, February 7, 2013
A shameful public witness. . .
The Christian Post, a publication I do not regularly read, has had several extended opinion pieces from a certain Dan Delzell who is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb. Now since this is my home state I take particular offense at how this man represents himself and the Lutheran faith in a publication read by many who do not know what Lutherans believe, confess, and teach.
Pastor Delzell, while serving an officially independent Lutheran congregation affiliated with LCMC, Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, a break away group from the ELCA, takes on the role not of defender of the faith but an enemy of it.
You can read his attack on baptism (especially infant baptism) here. And you can read his attack on the Sacrament of the Altar here. I am not going to rebut him here. Others have already taken than on. Instead I want to focus on the reason why it is that some want to attack their faith from within rather than simply leave it behind and get on with it. It is offensive to all when some lose their faith in their tradition and then feel it necessary to retain the name (although there is little that is Lutheran about this Pastor or his congregation except the name).
Part of the reason why the LCMS questioned the "Lutheran" character of the ELCA is that they acknowledged that they had departed from what had been believed and taught by Lutherans -- from an ecumenism in which difference is overlooked rather than common agreement forged to a sexual ethic that departed from the church's unbroken teaching on marriage, homosexuality, indeed, most all sexual morality. We found it offensive when this group kept the name but redefined what it meant to be Lutheran. I would assume that Delzell and his parish found the same issue untenable and for this reason left the ELCA. Nevertheless, they are doing exactly what the ELCA has done -- attempted to redefine Lutheranism away from its Confessions (the LCMC requires only unity in the catechism and Augsburg Confession). If you don't like what Lutherans have believed, confessed and taught, leave. There is nothing magical in the name "Lutheran." Give it up if it no longer reflects what you believe, confess, and teach.
I have the same problem with those Lutheran congregations who choose to drop the "Lutheran" name -- drop it all or keep nothing (except in many cases the tie that binds here is the cash being pumped into these less than Lutheran identities since they are often mission starts).
So, Pastor Delzell, don't take to the pages of a publication to challenge what Lutherans have clearly confessed in the past. Leave and confess without the backdrop of Lutheranism what it is that you confess. And leave it at that. Period.