Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) was an invited guest at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly last week. However, during his address to the convention, he chose to admonish the ELCA:
The decisions by this assembly to grant non-celibate homosexual ministers the privilege of serving as rostered leaders in the ELCA and the affirmation of same-gender unions as pleasing to God will undoubtedly cause additional stress and disharmony within the ELCA. It will also negatively affect the relationships between our two church bodies. The current division between our churches threatens to become a chasm. This grieves my heart and the hearts of all in the ELCA, the LCMS, and other Christian church bodies throughout the world who do not see these decisions as compatible with the Word of God, or in agreement with the consensus of 2,000 years of Christian theological affirmation regarding what Scripture teaches about human sexuality. Simply stated, this matter is fundamentally related to significant differences in how we [our two church bodies] understand the authority of Holy Scripture and the interpretation of God’s revealed and infallible Word.
Now, on the LCMS website, he acts as cheerleader for ELCA dissent, and he offers “appropriate support” in a thinly veiled invitation to defect from the ELCA to the LCMS.
We recognize that many brothers and sisters within the ELCA, both clergy and lay, are committed to remaining faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, are committed to the authority of Holy Scripture, and strongly oppose these actions. To them we offer our assurance of loving encouragement together with our willingness to provide appropriate support in their efforts to remain faithful to the Word of God and the historic teachings of the Lutheran church and all other Christian churches for the past 2,000 years.
Whether ELCA conservatives are willing to embrace the Biblical literalism of the LCMS or the overt patriarchy that does not allow women clergy remains to be seen (in some LCMS congregations, women are not even entitled to vote). More likely, I think, are the inchoate organizational impulses of WordAlone and Lutheran Core. What comes of this alliance of ELCA rebels remains to be seen. WordAlone has long been a conservative voice crying in the ELCA wilderness dating back to their formation as the opposition to the full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church a decade ago. The big question for WordAlone and Lutheran Core is whether they will merely seek a loud voice as the loyal opposition within the ELCA or whether they will foster a splintering away.
The latest missive on WordAlone’s website pulls no punches:
The ELCA assembly has now voted against the authoritative Word of God. The assembly has swapped His Word for human words that are neither based on sound reason or good order. In fact, the assembly voted against the Word of God, sound reason and the good order of creation.
That is not only not Lutheran, it is not Christian and it is not the work of the church but of a misguided , shrinking, sideline denomination whose leadership’s ears cannot hear and can no longer even discern or recognize, let alone revere, God’s direct warning and intervention.
God will not be mocked.
The article also references the tornado that touched the Convention Center and Central Lutheran Church in a tone reminiscent of the infamous right wing evangelist John Hagee blaming sinful New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina (comments that caused candidate McCain to run away from Hagee’s endorsement as fast as he could). If WordAlone chooses to engage in such silliness, at least they could be honest and point out the tornado was before the vote, and the sun came out after the vote.
The pontificating of Lutheran Core is no less confrontational:
“Lutheran CORE is continuing in the Christian faith as it has been passed down to us by generations of Christians. The ELCA is the one that has departed from the teaching of the Bible as understood by Christians for 2,000 years,” said the Rev. Paull Spring of State College, Pa., chair of Lutheran CORE.
“I am saddened that a Lutheran Church that was founded on a firm commitment to the Bible has come to the point that the ELCA would vote to reject the Bible’s teaching on marriage and homosexual behavior. It breaks my heart.”
Breaks your heart? Why do you sound so gleeful in your invitation to schism?
“We can no longer in good conscience participate in this relationship with the [ELCA] offices in Chicago,” Spring said.
“We are encouraging individuals and congregations to join us in Indianapolis to discuss what the future for faithful Lutherans in the ELCA might look like and how faithful congregations and individuals can work together,” [former] Bishop Spring said. “It is crucial that those ELCA Lutherans who uphold the authority of Scripture work together. We need each other. We urge people to come to Indianapolis.”
“We intend to gather the largest possible body of faithful Lutherans so that we might collectively plan a united common future. For that reason it is important that congregations and individuals not make hasty decisions about their future in the ELCA,” Spring added.
Would you like to be bishop of your own church, Rev Spring?