Thursday, February 7, 2013

A shameful public witness. . .

There are always things scandalous in the news -- some offensive to our values, some that cross the line of taste, and some, like the ones I mention today, that betray the very faith they claim to hold.

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.


Rev. Weinkauf said...

"What if Martin Luther had continued to assume that just because he had been baptized as an infant, he was already a Christian?" ... "A preoccupation with "Christ's body and blood" being located in the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper misses the point of the meal. " -Delzell

Lord have mercy! Perhaps he'll find a Lutheran church someday.

Chris said...

I see this guy's church everytime I go east on Hwy 370 and I've read a few things of his and I've read a few of his articles. Why this guy is allowed to call himself Lutheran is beyond ridiculous. I'm Greek Orthodox and I'm more Lutheran than he is!

Anonymous said...

For those conservative ex-ELCA congregations that belong to the LCMC as a matter of convenience, at what point will they leave that "association" and join either the LCMS, the AALC, or another confessional Lutheran body?

News stories about congregations leaving the ELCA abound, but information regarding congregations that leave the LCMC or the NALC are nowhere to be found.

New motto for the LCMC: "Do what thou wilt."

Sharks52 said...

How dare Delzell preach Biblical truths instead of Lutheran doctrine.

Cephas said...

With all due respect, I'd have to agree with Mr Delzell about the issues and 'certainty' surrounding infant baptism (vs a personal choice later on, and one to which one dedicates/surrenders their life to Christ. I was born and raised in the RCC, Baptized, Confirmed, Altar Server - and yet was as sinful a 'brat' as the unbeliever next door. Consider the mass exodus from the RCC - if baptism was "effectual" (as Confirmation), why didn't it change me?

I'm not Catholic or Lutheran or Protestant Bashing here - aside from the exodus in the RCC, we see he same issues in most every US and Western European denomination. "Once saved, always saved" because one might have "prayed a prayer" or "made an altar call" doesn't equate to winding up on the "Narrow Road".

I'm not LCMS, but I'd imagine it's "progressive sanctification" or "former LCMS" rates are not that far different from the RCC - hence depending on "Sacerdotalism" making a change in a person seems a quaint, "Confessional" position, yet does not bear out when it comes to which "road" the child later winds up on.

(Same can be said for those believing in "election" - and then go on to sin, thinking they're "covered" (fire insurance) given Calvin's theological constructs.

While some children undoubtedly do embrace Christ at a young age, and persevere their entire life for Him - they were initially "dead in Sin" - and only an act of "prevenient grace" or "regeneration" (in other circles), allowing them to REALLY see their condition before a holy God requires some level of cognition - not the sort of thing an infant can realize. The only historical evidence of not baptising with running water (then full immersion) was if those were not available - then then it was immediatly followed by the laying of hands - after about a 1 year conversion course - not thing type of thing an infant would benefit from.

While many, many theologians (RC Sproul for one) do a fine job of representing "paedo baptism" (sp?), the fact that Mr. Delzell does not agree with you does not deserve the type of disparagement here - esp from an LCMS "minister". Last I'd checked you were supposed to "go to him directly" - then if not, take a 2nd. Did you, or is this just another Internet Commando attach (vv under Christianity)?

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I would humbly suggest that Jesus was not LCMS nor the Augsburg Confession - and there are better ways to address your concerns than this, please.