Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Forget Lutheran, Evangelical is the problem word. . .

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQhXGgLTDsCxM6K9Cvs87j1UTj9Q3LacNb7iX8Kx641ELJcWbUvowIn 1988 when a new Lutheran body was formed from the merger of the Lutheran Church in American and the American Lutheran Church (with a little help from the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches), there was much to do about the name of the new church.  Some thought the word Lutheran might be the irrelevant term and just maybe this was the chance for Lutherans to ditch the term that Luther himself did not like.  Others thought it was time to reclaim the word too often gladly discarded to the Romans, Catholic.  Others thought this was a moment to reclaim another old word, evangelical, even though that word had already come to be synonymous with people who were definitely not like the ELCA was or would turn out to be.

In the end, Herbert Chilstrom was one voice insisting that evangelical needed to be in that name and reflected upon the search for a name for a new Lutheran body on its 25th anniversary (now 30 years old):
If ever a word has been hijacked and politicized and changed from its original meaning it is the term “evangelical.” Ask most anyone on the street to define “evangelical” and they will tell you that it represents someone who is opposed to gun control, abortion and birth control; someone who favors tight immigration restrictions and prayer in the public schools. You get the picture. The press relentlessly speaks of the “Evangelical Bloc” when it writes and broadcasts items about some members of the Republican Party and other conservative movements.

This is sad for us in the Christian church who have a totally different understanding of what it means to be “evangelical.” We remember that the root meaning of the word goes back to the New Testament and the Greek language in which it was written. Its meaning is almost disarming in its simplicity. It describes one who believes the Good News about Jesus Christ. It centers in his death and resurrection that we will soon observe as the high points of our Christian year. We believe that at its heart the Bible is primarily about this unbelievable, incredible message of hope.

When the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was formed nearly 25 years ago, we deliberately included the word “Evangelical” in our name. We did so to make it known that anyone who embraces that fundamental focus on Jesus Christ is welcome to be a member of one of our congregations: old, young, Democrat, Republican, Independent, African American, Caucasian, Hispanic, straight, gay, single, married — yes, anyone. We are different; yet held together in Jesus Christ. What identifies us is not our position on a political issue or our stance on a complex moral question where we have inevitable differences of opinion. No, being “evangelica” is simply to trust completely in Jesus Christ.
Though Chilstrom wrote passionately of the word evangelical, it is hard to imagine a church body which has strayed more from that word in public witness and practice.  Far from being identified as  a people who focus upon Jesus Christ, the ELCA has become captive to every social cause to hit the news.  They are climate change people who advocate for the smaller carbon imprint of mankind in the name of faithfulness.  They are social justice people who advocate for government programs for the poor, for laws to enforce racial neutrality, and for immigrants who are not yet citizens and may be illegal.  They are into every sexual liberation known from the traditional gay and lesbian causes to the transgendered and everything else that has a name and a voice to make itself known.  They tend to be a predictable voice for liberal causes when bishops or their presiding bishop writes a letter or when individual synods take stands.  Indeed, if the ELCA is evangelical it is because they have hijacked the Gospel part of that word and redefined it away from Jesus crucified and risen, for the forgiveness of our sins, for reconciliation with the Father, and for the gift of everlasting life.

Lutherans, including my own LCMS, have been wary of the ELCA and its aggressive social stance and witness for some time and it has become fashionable for us to claim that the ELCA is no longer really Lutheran.  Perhaps it is time for us to go one step further and suggest that the Evangelical part of their name has also been sacrificed to the cause of political correctness, social justice, and sexual and gender liberation causes.  At a time in which real evangelicals are finding it hard to remain faithful to that Gospel in a world so profound in its distaste for the real Jesus of Nazareth, that word is more than a moniker.  It is shorthand for the one and everlasting Gospel which is about sin and forgiveness, loss and redemption, estrangement from the Father and reconciliation, faith that trusts against reason, life that triumphs over death, and the real best life now with God forevermore.

Others have suggested that the ones most folks call evangelical are ready to ditch the name for various reasons.  It is hard to see how old style evangelicals and the likes of Joel Osteen can live under the same umbrella term.  Perhaps they are right.  Others, however, seem intent upon redefining evangelical away from the theology of Christ and Him crucified and onto other things.  In any case, those who made such a big deal about claiming the term in their quest for a name for the church body that became the ELCA are hardly the most faithful voices to claim its heritage.  Maybe Lutherans should ask for the name back, but not the ELCA, the real Lutherans for whom the term evangelical is a real fit!


Carl Vehse said...

In 2001 the LCMS convention confirmed President Al Barry's statement that the XXXA was no longer an orthodox Lutheran church body. In 2009, then Matthew Harrison publicly declared that apostasy was the word to describe the XXXA. This was confirmed by the LCMS CTCR in an April 2012 document that stated the XXXA "has now taken this step, embodying apostasy from the faith once delivered to the saints."

As an apostate (nonChristian) religious organization, the XXXA is not Evangelical, Lutheran or a Church, in the Christian understanding. Their religious rites have all the efficacy of a Hollywood movie scene.

Saying there may be Christian individuals in a XXXA gathering is no different than saying there may be Christian individuals in a whorehouse.

Anonymous said...

How to excite one's readers and boost comments? Bash the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Thanks be to God for the witness of the xxMx.

Carl Vehse said...

No need to "bash" the XXXA. The XXXA's own words and actions has bashed itself into apostasy.

Anonymous said...

Let's talk about divorced and remarried XXMX laity and clergy that are not only not excommunicated for ongoing adultery but are welcomed into XXMX congregations as leaders. On second thought, let's bash the XXXA for welcoming gays instead. Takes the heat off us. "I thank Thee Lord..."

Anonymous said...

I understand this would cause you to bristle. I assume it's because you love people in the ELCA. Do you agree with these doctrines of the ELCA? If you do, why are you concerned with what those backwards fundamentalist "xxMx" people think? If you don't, why not accept the criticism and follow through on the uncomfortable logic? After all, He will come to be our judge.

Pastor Peters is a pretty equal opportunity critic, I think most readers pay very little attention to posts like this because they're over the ELCA. This stuff is pretty old news. I don't think he cares too much about stirring up comments. The papist posts get a lot more comments if that's his goal.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, using the logic of that document, we ought to consider women-ordaining communions apostate as well. Which I don't disagree with.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is a problem. Let's have a separate post about that. But in light of your "On second thought, let's bash the XXXA for welcoming gays instead" comment, I have to assume you're just lashing out and you're not really concerned about it. Nobody has a problem with "welcoming gays". Jesus sinners doth receive.

And yet, we should unashamedly say with St. Paul "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" Amen!

Anonymous said...

to which we can add, adulterers--all the divorced and remarried folk in the LCMS.

Anonymous said...

do a word search on this site for "gays" and then one for "remarried", "divorced", "adultery".

Anonymous said...

Because the ELCA still sadly call themselves 'Lutherans' it does effect the LCMS. When the ELCA farts, the LCMS smells it. Thanks be to God there are still some in the ELCA saved, while the church is telling many people, do not repent of certain sins -which is preaching people to hell.

The ELCA publicly states the Bible has errors and contradictions. No one can honestly dispute that because the ELCA actually state it. So women ordination, abortion, and gay marriage is God-pleasing in their own minds regardless. Even the greatest women, Mary isn't qualified to be a pastor (Acts 1) and regardless of numerous Scriptural citations on women, life, and sexual behavior, people set themselves ABOVE Scripture to decide and thus become a god unto themselves (that's why the term apostasy is used.)

But as currents trends continue, the ELCA will be smaller than the LCMS in 8 years and will be almost non-existent in 15 years (if they don't merge with the UMC break-off which will happen next year or other liberal bodies.)

Anonymous said...

You want me to add words to the inspired Scriptures? Pass.

The thing is, I tend to think you don't really believe that remarriage after divorce is adultery. Or that homosexuality is sin.

I do, to both. So you called noone on their bluff.

By all means, let's condemn all sinful behavior. The words of Christ and the blessed Apostle Paul are clear.

Rev. Weinkauf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The point is REPENTANCE. Divorce, homosexuality, remarriage, cohabitation can be addressed in God-pleasing ways according to Scripture. These are not unforgivable sins. But sins to confess and then live according to God's Word. Who in the LCMS is not doing that? Our Synod has addressed these in accord with God's Word and in accord with God's people since Adam.

But when a church body tells people it is God-pleasing to sin, true Christians must flee, are compelled to flee according to Scripture. But don't not let God's Word get in the way of what we want to do and how we don't want to be inconvenienced to leave a church that is no longer historically Christian.

Carl Vehse said...

Mr., A. Mous on July 3, 2018, at 8:38 AM, Perhaps Rev. Peters will have a column on divorced or adulterous LCMS pastors, which can be discussed in the comments. Until then we can talk about the apostate XXXA here.

Mr. A. Mous on July 3, 2018, at 8:45 AM, Okay,we've got that marked down. Pres. Harrison says the XXXA is apostate; The CTCR, which includes three pastors, one district president, one parish teacher, four seminary professors, and one Missouri Synod college or university professor, with advisory members including the Synod's First Vice-President, and the presidents of the two Missouri Synod seminiaries, says the XXXA is apostate. And now we have you, Mr. Anony Mous who disagrees. Got it.

Mr. A. Mous on July 3, 2018, at 9:52 AM and Mr. A. Mous on July 3, at 10:15 AM, well, there are circumstances in which divorce and subsequent remarriage is permitted. But, hey, you just go ahead and slander every divorced person with a false accusation, because you have a point to make, and that point reflects back on you.

To all the Mouses who have tossed in red herrings of divorce by various people within the LCMS (rather than at least focusing on the theological position stated by the LCMS on divorce), none of this changes the reality and truth that, in the view of the LCMS, the theological position that same-sex couples may 'marry' and be 'ordained' has made the XXXA into apostate religious organization.

Anonymous said...

Rereading the posts, I can see that I was unclear. I agree with the judgment on the ELCA. What I meant was that those who ordain women have departed from the faith once delivered in a similar manner, so why would they not also be considered apostate?

No slander was intended, and I apologise for that. I assume divorce and remarriage issues are handled pastorally, but I'm genuinely interested in the Lutheran position on this issue.

I thought the post above yours hit the nail on the head.

A. Mousse.

Anonymous said...

Regarding man-made climate change:

God's Covenant with Noah
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

“While the earth remains” .... Who are you going to believe?