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’.