The Lutheran Church – Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Via Crosswalk – Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) president predicts that the Lutheran Church is setting itself up for one of the most acrimonious debates ever conducted by a denominational organization. 

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA] Church Council released its recommendations (PDF) to the denomination’s Churchwide Assembly on issues related to sexuality on April 11, 2005, setting the stage for what promises to be one of the most acrimonious debates ever conducted by a denominational organization.

The recommendations came on the heels of two reports issued by theologians on both sides of the controversy. In the end, the Church Council went in another direction entirely, rejecting the recommendations from its “Task Force for Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Studies on Sexuality,” released in January. That report called for the church to adopt what amounts to a “local option” policy, permitting local churches to violate the church’s standards for ministers without penalty. In essence, this recommendation amounted to an acknowledgement that the ELCA is so polarized on the issue of homosexuality that an honest compromise is impossible. Honesty and integrity would have required the denomination to take official action, either to allow the ordination of practicing homosexuals or to exclude practicing homosexuals from the ministry. After years of study, the church’s task force recommended that the church maintain its policy explicitly permitting the ordination of practicing homosexuals, but allow churches to disobey and violate the policy without penalty or disciplinary procedures. In other words, this mainline Lutheran denomination attempted to adopt a ministerial form of the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The Lutherans are split into two separate denominations. The other ‘branch’ is the LCMS, or Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It didn’t take long for them to respond to the ELCA recommendations.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod [LCMS], a far more conservative Lutheran body, responded to the ELCA Task Force’s recommendations as representatives from the two bodies met for the “Committee on Lutheran Cooperation” in St. Louis on March 29-30. The LCMS, committed to biblical inerrancy, responded to the ELCA with “a word of Christian concern about the recommendations of this report and the rationale for those recommendations.” The report from the LCMS pointed directly to the authority of Scripture as the fundamental issue: “As the LCMS has wrestled with the sensitive issue of homosexuality, it has had to return time and again to the more fundamental question of how we go about addressing these questions in the first place: namely, on the basis of the Holy Scriptures as God’s inspired and inerrant Word. There is widespread agreement among Biblical scholars of varying theological persuasions and positions that the Bible itself clearly identifies homosexual behavior as sinful.” The LCMS statement went on to emphasize “the foundational issue of the authority of Scripture,” arguing that the church must “say without qualification that the Holy Scriptures are, in their entirety, the inspired and inerrant Word of God.”

Go read the entire article. If you’re a regular reader of PunditGuy, you know where I stand. Christians are to be set apart from the world. We believe that the Bible is the Holy Word of God. It was written by him through men he inspired. If you believe the Bible is the living Word of God, you believe the ENTIRE Bible is his Word. Not just ‘this part’ and ‘that part’, but not ‘that part’. The problem with modern Christianity today is it’s become mostly a big tent society, with interchangable theologies and conflicting doctrines. It seems more important to fill your church than it is to teach biblical truth. What is future for the Christian faith if its beliefs can be changed to accommodate anything and anyone at anytime while totally disregarding the ‘sin problem‘?

None of these external issues will be solved until we deal with the internal issue of ‘sin’.

Flame on.

Comments

  1. I’m glad you included the distinction between the ELCA and the LC-MS. The two bodies share little more than the word Lutheran any more. It gripes me to see references to what “Lutherans” practice or espouse, with references only to the ELCA.

  2. I am a pastor of the ELCA and like many of my colleagues, opposed to the recommendations of the Church Council. Check out my post on this subject at: http://markdaniels.blogspot.com/2005/04/council-recommends-lutheran-body-break.html

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  4. Happy to see intelligent conversation on the ELCA/LCMS distinction and the problems the ELCA is facing regarding their position on homosexuality. As a LCMS seminarian and friend of a ELCA pastor, I pray for the ELCA that they can stop the movement away from what scripture tells us. I implore the leaders of the ELCA to hold tight to scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Let’s put those writings (by God and excellent theologians) before our personal desires so that we remain humble and make big changes only after referring to our theological authorities.

  5. I feel as though my church and my vote in my church have been hijacked away from me as part of a gay conspiracy dating back to the formation of the ELCA in 1987. I do not see myself continuing as a member of this church after August of 2005 and after 51 years of life in this church, I will leave feeling bitter and wanting those responsible damned. There was nothing “Lutheran” or “American” about the way this chain of events played out. The homosexual community and their agenda is laughable as for them to call me “Homophobic” constitutes “hate speech” and gay people are some of the most intolerant and twisted sinners on the face of this earth. A minority of people living a perverted lifestyle in America never have the right to impose their lifestyle and call names of the majority. That is as psychotic as it is un-American.

  6. I hate to address another poster directly, but I feel I have to. I can’t believe this statement, “That is as psychotic as it is un-American”. Un-American? I think that when this country was founded it was mostly due to religous persecution in England. This country was established to give EVERYONE the freedom to worship who/what they want, IF they want. How can you say that the gay lifestyle is perverse or un-American. America is here because everyone has a freedom to act the way they want. You are un-American to impose yours or anyone’s lifestyle on another person. If you want this, I suggest migration to a communist country sir. I would imagine if our founding fathers wanted everyone to live the same lifestyle, perhaps the ten commandments would be part of the Constitution. As for me (a veteran), I’m glad my wife and I and our 3 children live in a country where everyone enjoys such freedoms as we do.

  7. Devoted’s post begs a response. Anytime a church relinquishes the protection god’s grace affords by rebelling against him and denying the authority of his word all Christendom mourns the loss. That is what the ELCA Lutheran church has done by accepting homosexuality. Your confusion as to why David S. (the poster you responded to) is angered by this event is excusable only to the point of your not being familiar with the Bible and in particular your failure to understand scripture insofar as God’s view towards the homosexual lifestyle is concerned. I would withhold judgement on the author until you are better informed and refrain from using the same ploy others use in trying to twist logic and truth for the puropse of confusing the issue and gaining the upper hand. That acheives nothing but dissension. In addition, I heard no moral judgement made by him towards anyone, only a statement of fact towards the behaviors as he has observed of certain individuals and anger at what he considers to be an afront to an institution he has devoted his heart to. (He is however expressing a distinctly un-christian attitude in wishing these (or any) individuals “damned”, as hard as it is, we are to forgive, if we ae unable, we can follow Jesus’ example while he hung nailed to a cross and ask God to forgive them for us.)

    As far as others having the freedom to worship anyway they choose, you are afforded that right, and the author is afforded HIS right to his opinion AND his conviction. Yet he is not wihout good company in his beliefs, as you will see if you bear with me further.

    I’m glad to hear you are interested in the causes which led the early colonizers to flee England. To a certain extent you are correct. Many did flee religious persecution, and the freedom they sought and which continued on up to and well past the drafting of the Declaration of Independance was the freedom to worship IN OBEDIENCE the CHRISTIAN GOD, free from the constraints placed on them by the Church of England.
    The same CHRISTIAN GOD that these early colonizers were fleeing TO is the same God the Founding Fathers–they being Thomas Jefferson (author), and all the signers of the Declaration of Independence (and immediately thereafter) the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights–acknowledged IN WRITING as being “Nature’s God, “their Creator”, and ” the Supreme Judge of the World”.

    It is this God, the God of the Christian Bible, the God of the early Colonizers, the God of our founding Fathers, and the God of the Christian today who has revealed himself to be a God of bounty, mercy, and judgement. He provides for and protects this country and has sustained it and blessed it for two-hundred- thirty years despite attacks from within and without. He is faithful but just and demands obedience, in exchange he promises a gift beyond comprehension.
    For more…read John 3:16 (and the rest of the book). for an up close, personal experience, he can be found by simply seeking after him and calling on his name, Abba Father.

    Don’t get me wrong, Christians aren’t perfect, despite what some may want you to believe, to them I would say,
    “For all (christians and non-christians alike) have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.: Romans 3:23

    (FYI the Church of England’s imposed authority over the worship lives of the early colonizers, an event so misconstrued today, has become the loophope for those who are themselves in rebelion to God and, threatened by his authority (unlike the above colonizers, and framers who embraced it), endeavor to strike from every public occurence any reminder of his presence & Supreme position in society and government.

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