Sunday, June 6, 2010

Distressing News

I have been reading and listening to colleagues in the ELCA who are trying to respond to the events of the CWA in 2009 and whose congregations have been lining up to vote in the long process to leave the ELCA.  It is a sad and disconcerting thing to watch a church body self-destruct.  I know the pain in the hearts of those who had hoped against hope to turn the ELCA ship around.  But even more disconcerting is the way some in the ELCA who are supportive of the CWA actions are casting this whole thing.

It is sad to see a church body that just passed these controversial changes with respect to sexuality and the ministry by the minimum votes required (a 2/3 squeaker) are now suggesting that they need to review the situation congregations which just make the 2/3 requirement to leave.  All the talk is serious and solemn about respecting the rights of those opposed but, of course, this was not the highest priority last August.  It is a sham to hold congregations to the rigid requirement when anything approaching a 2/3 majority would indicate severe displeasure and a breach of fellowship.

It is sad to see a church body facing serious financial short-falls try to blame the economy and other factors rather than standing up to admit that the controversial decisions of the CWA to accept same sex relationships (albeit PALMS) and homosexual clergy (in PALMS) was costing the ELCA money, people, and congregations.  If it was such a good thing, why not let those opposed simply leave and bid them adieu so that those who are staying can widen the door of the church even more to let people in and doctrine out.

It is a sad thing to see a church body call for patience when people and congregations are seeking to leave when there was nothing that could stop the steam roller movement toward radical change.  Where was the call to patience when these decisions were being made?  Patience has become another way to say "We are not going to let you go until we can figure a way out to take the assets away from the majority..."

It is a sad thing to see the face of Lutheranism soiled with the deception of a papered over peace that rests on a foundation cracking and falling away week after week.  Just as I grow tired of those in Missouri who would presume we have nothing in common and no fellowship with those with whom we disagree about worship or Eucharistic fellowship, so am I also tired of those who insist that the good ship ELCA is going through a little rough water but the ship is in tact and on its way to smooth sailing.

I have no glee for the troubles of our Lutheran cousins in the ELCA, only tears of sorrow and pain over the destruction of a once promising start in a church body that is barely one generation old.  I can stomach no boasting from a Missouri facing its own cracks in the foundation.  Everywhere you look in Lutheranism in the USA you see something to make you sad...  Pray that the Lord will rebuild this grand and noble reformation communion and lead us to rekindle again the gift of the Word and Sacraments that are the core and center of our life and worship and still the means to recovering what we have lost....


Anonymous said...

Anyone who bears the name Lutheran should be troubled at many things presented as Lutheranism.

From the ELCA website...Concerning Holy Scripture -"At the same time, we also find in the Bible human emotion, testimony, opinion, cultural limitation and bias. ELCA Lutherans recognize that human testimony and writing are related to and often limited by culture, customs and world view. Because Biblical writers, editors and compilers were limited by their times and world views, even as we are, the Bible contains material wedded to those times and places. It also means that writers sometimes provide differing and even contradictory views of God’s word, ways and will."

St. Paul's response (Galatinas 1) to this is -let them be accursed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for not writing off the ELCA wholesale - there are many of us trying to proclaim the Gospel and struggle to present Law and Gospel in a confessionally sound and orthodox way. The crowing of some in Missouri has been extremely troubling and uncharitable. Your kindness is very noteworthy, and it's one of the reasons I subscribe to your blog.

Rather than finding ways that we are cursed, seek to build bonds of support with confessionally minded ELCA pastors and offer them support and a listening ear in these troubled times. This is the way of brotherhood in Christ.

Chris said...

Fr. Peters,

As I am not Lutheran, I believe that I can approach this issue with some amount of rejoicing but only because these ELCA churches voting to leave the ELCA are doing so because they are rejecting the very obvious heresy that the ELCA leadership clings to with all its soul and power. Granted, there is much to be done on behalf of these ELCA churches for them to be completely rid of the many heresies they cling to, but this is a good first step. One would hope that they would go further and abolish the clearly other heretical and schismatic dogmas and praxis that they currently accept.

But still, let us rejoice that these churches have rejected this heresy.

ErnestO said...

"Like every human organization the Church is constantly in danger of corruption. As soon as power and wealth come to the Church, manipulation, exploitation, misuse of influence and outright corruption are not far away.

How do we prevent corruption in the Church? The answer is clear: by focusing on the poor. The poor make the Church faithful to its vocation. When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness."
Father Henri J. Nouwen

Janis Williams said...

The Church remains the Church, faithful and uncorrupt when she preaches/proclaims the TRUE GOSPEL. No other issue or group can take precedence or work to keep Her 'on track'. Nothing will keep the Church pure but the pure Word of Christ, Him crucified, dead, buried, and risen for the forgiveness of sins.

Anonymous said...

-Wasn't Father Nouwen defrocked by Rome for embracing Eastern/Buddist religious theology, denying the Holy Trinity and exclusive salvation by Jesus Christ alone.

I would never quote him.