Friday, September 24, 2010

When We Would Rather Be Wrong than Right

HT to 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.


Anonymous said...

How has this been allowed? ELCA is obviously above God's Law. As a Pastor in the ELCA, have you considered leaving and joining a different Lutheran Church, WELS, Missouri?

Pastor Peters said...

I am in Missouri... the "we" was meant not so much personally but as Lutherans in general...

Obie Holmen said...

You write, "Now the caveat in this whole thing is that this is a conscious decision to ignore Scripture".

Frankly, that is a blatant lie. I attended the service you describe, and there were numerous readings from Holy Scripture.

Be honest, and acknowledge that what you really mean is that the ELCA has deviated from YOUR INTERPRETATION of Scripture.

Pastor Peters said...

No, not my interpretation of Scripture... but the one that Rome, Constantinople, Wittenberg and the church through the ages has agreed upon... it is the ELCA that has deviated from the accepted teaching of the Word... to have Scripture lessons read at a service does not mean that the people are listening to or hearing the Word (besides, were any of the texts that actually addressed homosexuality read at that service???).

Anonymous said...

Obie, go the the ELCA website- Digging Deeper- God's Word. The ELCA says the Bible has errors, the writers limited and bias, and actually wrote contraditory of what God actually meant to say. WOW!. Also, the individual can interpret Scripture any way that want. It's right there for you to read!

Obie, if you are correct, the entire Christian Church on earth had it wrong from day 1, the first 1900 years- and the ELCA today finally figured out God's Word. Same thing goes for women pastors.

Rev. Kevin Jennings said...

Hi, Pastor Peters!

Many years ago, as a Marine Corps recruit at the rifle range, our shooting instructors taught us a very important lesson. If our sights were one degree off at the muzzle, the round would be 30 feet wide at 100 meters. The nearest target was 200 meters, meaning our rounds would be 60 feet wide - three targets away! Instead of a white circle in the center (bulls-eye), it's a red circle passing in front of the target - Maggie's Drawers, a miss.

The fundamental issue of this is not women or sexuality, it is the Word of God - Holy Scripture. As was noted in an earlier post, there were readings from Holy Scripture at the service in question. Big deal! The devil quoted Holy Scripture when tempting Jesus - check Matthew 4, unless, of course, that's not considered authentic. Frankly, this is an argument that's akin to being a "little bit pregnant." Either the book's all authentic, or it's the greatest ruse ever perpetrated. Back to my illustration.

What the church body has done is allow its sights to be off by a degree (or better) at the muzzle. By ignoring St. Paul's words in Romans 1 and 2 and Holy Writ in other places, when it comes to who may serve as pastor and the issue of human sexuality, the rounds are well wide of the target. Maggie's Drawers!

When I read that some groups want to break away from ELCA and begin something different, yet keep some of the same troubling practices that knocked ELCA's sights off at the muzzle, it is a problem. In effect, what they're saying is, "Our sights are off at the muzzle, but not that much! We can still hit our target." All that is happening is a delay of the current practices for a few years. Eventually, maybe at the 300 meter target or the 500 meter target, it will be wide again. Maggie's Drawers!

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

Good to see Dr. Mohler is familiar with Luther; “You should not believe your conscience and your feelings more than the word which the Lord who receives sinners preaches to you.”

'nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Jenning's scenario is exactly how I figure I was awarded an expert marksman ribbon in the Air Force, a ribbon I refused to wear until I almost lost a promotion for my uniform not matching my service record. As a medic, I never picked up a weapon for the rest of my tenure in the military, but my ribbon rack said I was an expert.

So, too, the Church that has the external markings of orthodoxy like Scripture readings, vestments, ritual but that can disguise the emptiness inside.

I have been very reticent about criticizing the ELCA because I am by nature a rather irenic soul, but of late the situation seems to be getting worse and worse within the Church of my wife and her family.

I am saddened beyond words and still pray daily for my orthodox Pastor friends who are staying to be the remnant and call to faithfulness. While we LCMS types are about leaving situations like that, I deeply admire my friends who feel God is calling them to stay, as martyrs in the simplest sense.