Thursday, January 17, 2013

Strange thing about those most interested in inclusiveness. . .

I read a piece in the First Things On the Square blog and it had something to do with a brouhaha over the pictures of the previous clergy in that congregation, all white old men.  Since I am near that (my children say I am already there) I take such things personally.  The blog spent a great deal of time lauding the accomplishments of white old men.  I could do the same but that would simply be repeating this author's blog.  Instead I want to focus on how those churches (among other things) where inclusivity is the highest of all virtues, it is also true that they are in decline in numbers and influence.

The ELCA of American Lutheranism was formed in the grand experiment to quota inclusivity so that old white men would not have much influence over this church body.  It remains the most sacred of the organizational tenets of this church.  Read through the pages of their national magazine (The Lutheran) and you cannot miss the unmistakable nod to inclusivity (there are the requisite number of people of color, women, and GLBT folks prominently displayed).  Yet this church body is bleeding money and people off like sixty (an old Nebraska saying).  At the same time they laud and magnify their inclusivity, they have dropped more than a fourth of their membership and the their working budget is a shadow of its former self.  We hardly need to mention that perhaps 75 percent of their members are white haired old men and women (nothing against the aged that I am soon becoming).

Why is it that those who are in decline (and who would NOT say that the ELCA is not declining) at the same time are the most passionate voices against white old men and for inclusivity (especially of the micro minorities among us)?  Why, indeed!  When institutional vitality is a memory, the distraction and diversion is to become prophetic, heralding the promise of whatever new social trend or fad is loudest.  So out with the white old men and in with GLBT (what is claimed as the newest civil rites movement).

I did not fully appreciate how offensive this was to those groups who worked at the cost of their own safety and even lives for integration until I began to realize that the groups that now mark diversity are hardly the oppressed.  They may not be able to marry in most states but they make more money than the average person in America, are more highly educated, have full access and support of the media, exert creative control over what goes on TV and in the movies and in print, and have succeeded in labeling anyone who disagrees a homophobe.  While I do not at all mean that the GLBT have not suffered, their suffering is vastly different than the plight of the Blacks in America.

I truly do wish that my own LCMS were more successful in welcoming people of color and reaching out to Latinos and more effective in the Asian communities in America.  It is not because I believe in the inclusivity agenda.  It is because I believe the faith believed, confessed, and taught among us is the evangelical and catholic faith which is intrinsically for all people, from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and even to the ends of the world.  I am scandalized when being inclusive is a primary goal instead of faithful, Biblical witness to all people everywhere.  We proclaim salvation exclusively found in Jesus Christ and Him crucified but inclusive in that He suffered, died, and rose for the sake of the whole world and all people.

The truth is I wish that those who were declining would stop the bandwagon of inclusivity as the savior of their institutional lives and begin by remembering what it means to proclaim faithfully the catholic faith of the creeds and confession.  The liturgy is inclusive because it is catholic.  Lets stop the foolishness of seeking visible tokens to laud so that we do not have to think about the bleeding of people and ministry and money to support that ministry and get back to what we are really to be and to do as the Church.


Unknown said...

LCMS is hemorrhaging people and money too without the PC mumbo-jumbo of inclusivity and diversity and what not. Maybe it can just be boiled down to an easy answer that Protestantism isn't a viable religious movement anymore.

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear! Pr. Peters has truly spoken the truth about dropping this inclusivity foolishness and instead preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ that speaks to all men.

This is the Church's mission, and indeed, its only mission! The Christian faith is always a viable movement in this sin-sick world!

Anglican Priest-9

Anonymous said...


The ELCA and its full communion partners are in a race to the bottom. All of the following churches will die out before the LCMS:

Presbyterian Church (USA)
Full Communion Partner since 1997.

Reformed Church in America
Full Communion Partner since 1997.

United Church of Christ
Full Communion Partner since 1997.

The Episcopal Church
Full Communion Partner since 1999.

The Moravian Church
Full Communion Partner since 1999.

United Methodist Church
Full Communion Partner since 2009.