Saturday, September 2, 2023

Problems. . .

Some have raised the question of whether or not the conservative nature of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod fosters a kind of racism or bigotry that may not be within the purview of the church body itself but is not entirely inconsistent with its positions.  Of course, that is a stretch.  The reason it is a stretch is that those who have advocated such stance have been publicly rebuked by official Missouri.  While you may not like it or even think it fair, the reality is that Missouri has not let such voices claim to speak for their church body.  Though sometimes I fear Missouri does not have the courage to address clearly some of the things that need to be dealt with in uncertain terms (such things as online Communion, non-liturgical and non-sacramental worship, etc.), the leadership has not been hesitant to come down against the kind of alt-right stands that some have promoted in the name of Missouri.  Again, you may not like it or think it is fair, but there has been no reluctance to say this is not who we are.

On the other hand, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America seems incapable of denouncing anything but those who refuse to get in line with their woke positions on sex, gender, climate change, etc.  Take, for example, Pastor Lura Groen of Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in Columbia, MD. She is surely pressing the boundaries of the left within a left leaning church body but there seems to be no one who will stand up and say this is too far to go.  Her statements are not simply shocking but downright blasphemous.  She has suggested that Jesus was trying to seduce the Samaritan woman at the well or that there are lesbian angels who have affairs with queer women.  She, like others much more prominent, seems preoccupied with sex and gender.  She praises the hook up culture, does not think that Scripture condemns pre- or extra-marital sex, and says God is polyamorous so why would He condemn people for doing what He does.  There seems to be no end to what this pastor will say.  It is unclear if she merely enjoys the shock value of such statements or if she is a true believer in what she says or both. Instead of condemning such outrageous things, the ELCA has her on their disciplinary committee for clergy and she has also sat on at least one panel with Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA. Her friends and acquaintances describe her as a (hard) truth-teller.  Whose truth, they do not say.  She certainly believes that everyone should be having a lot of good sex and has Tweeted that Jesus was Queer, anti-establishment, pro-heaux, and rejected heteronormative relationship models. Perhaps this is exactly the difference between Missouri and the ELCA -- it is not merely orthodoxy but the bounds willing to be tolerated by their fringes.  

Going to seminary, but even more, pastoring people, radicalized me. Reading Scriptures with other people, hearing the Bible stories next to the stories of people’s lives, has changed everything for me.  At least, that is where she says she learned this.  Since the seminaries of any church body represent their official teaching, we can only presume that the seminaries of the ELCA are at least some of the sources of this blasphemy.  If you ever wanted a reason for ecclesiastical supervision and for visitation, here is one.  Too much is at stake.  And, by the way, people like this exploit the social media to promote their radicalized views.  Yet from the ELCA there is not a word -- except to officialize her role by giving her a synodical place on a disciplinary committee that sits in judgment over other clergy.  You can guess which clergy and which points of view she would challenge.  Again, there is a reason why we are closer to groups non-Lutheran than to others who wear the Lutheran name but have betrayed the confession.  As I have often said, there is nothing more shocking, radical, or subversive than orthodoxy.  If you want to be really dangerous, be an orthodox and catholic Christian.  It won't take long before they come to get you and some of them might be from your own church body.

1 comment:

jdwalker said...

Nothing says conservative than passing more than 35 resolutions denouncing racism and a firm commitment to keep passing them as long as someone out there thinks they are racist.

And nothing says LCMS than saying, God, we thank you that we are not like the ELCA...hey, ELCA pastors, will you please write our catechetical materials, teach our pastors, etc.

Sometimes being in the conservative LCMS can be so tiring. But I am sure that in the near future there will be a time when the LCMS (or whatever faithful church body succeeds it) will not use "conservative" as the go to word to describe itself, not concerned about being labeled racist, and not have a hypocritical relationship with the ELCA (and be no more entwined or concerned with what is going on with the ELCA than Scientology).