Friday, March 1, 2024

Controvered articles of faith eventually find solutions. . .

Bishop David Preus (of the then American Lutheran Church) said that "there will always be some issues arising to the surface that will require serious, open theological debate. . . The history of our churches indicate that such controverted articles generally find solutions. . . We  think the same will happen with . . . the doctrine of inerrancy, women's ordination, and membership in ecumenical organizations."  That was in 1981.  Although it could hardly be called revolutionary, his wisdom has largely proven correct.

The solution for the doctrine of inerrancy is to have a Scripture which is supposedly true with regard to matters of our salvation but filled with myths, legends, falsehoods, and errors about other things.  In the end you have a Bible in which we are left to decide each for ourselves what is truth and what is not.  The problem with this is that the marker varies by the individual and the times.  Eventually, hardly anything will be left of the truth of Scripture except the most minimal and common wisdom that is not unique to Scripture at all.  That is certainly the position of liberal Christendom.

The solution for women's ordination is for everyone to adopt it -- either by having their own female pastors or by making it no barrier to altar and pulpit fellowship.  The end result is to have no real standards for who is a pastor and who is not.  Effectively that is what has happened to generic and mainline denominations so far.  Within the ELCA you cannot even hold to fidelity to the spouse (gay or not) since cohabitation and non-marital relationships are not condemned.  In the end, the door to the ordination of women has either by default or intrinsically allowed the removal of nearly every standard of morality that the Scriptures held as requirements for those to be ordained.  And conservative churches have their own history in this by lessening the stigma attached to divorce and remarriage of those who are not LGBTQ+.

The solution to the ecumenical question has been to presume that common associations do not quite extend to every association.  In other words, if you are in fellowship with a church that is in fellowship with another church you are not, this has no real consequence or meaning for you.  But how that can this be?  In the end, everyone regards every association with the meaning they wish it to have and thus no association means the same thing to everyone.  For the ELCA this has meant the denomination is more comfortable with non-Lutherans than it is with Lutherans with whom they disagree.  What a strange circumstance!

I guess what Bishop Preus meant was that everything is moving on a path toward liberalism and it just takes some longer than others to get there.  While that is certainly of no comfort to Missouri Lutherans, it is certainly the reality of Protestantism as a whole.  Sadly, even Rome is not far behind.

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