Tuesday, 23 February 2010

New Lutheran Church Body in the USA


We interrupt our scheduled programming on Law and Gospel for breaking news: As I type, it is likely that discussions regarding the formation of a new Lutheran church body in the USA are taking place. The proposed new body, to be called The North American Lutheran Church (all the good names are taken, it seems!) will rise from the ashes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's 2009 synod's decision to allow homosexual clergy and move to bless same-sex unions in the future. Already, 229 congregations are reported to have taken votes on leaving the ELCA, and in 156 of those congregations the vote has attained the necessary two-thirds majority (a second vote is required within a 90 day period for the decision to be constitutional, apparently).

Small beginnings, perhaps, given the size of the ELCA, but as the recent history of orthodox Anglican breakaway groups in the US has shown, these movements, once started in the US, tend to gain a momentum of their own once disaffected members of the parent body see a viable alternative.

We at the 'old manse' look forward to future developments, and await further elucidation of the proposed new body's doctrinal basis. A rejection of the hermeneutical approaches which have led to the ELCA's present problems and a re-statement of Biblical authority would be a good start.

Click on the post title to read Lutheran CORE's press release. The move to form a new denomination has been reported in several national newspapers in the US, as was the 2009 synod decision. The pic is one of the Lutheran CORE group of ELCA dissneters 2009 Convocation.

10 comments:

Melanchthon said...

Te Deum Laudamus! (Although I'm a bit conflicted about yet another denomination in the US.)

In my own Conference, two churches have already left, two have one foot out the door, and another is leaning that way.

THE ELCA has become another dying mainline denomination. I'm an ELCA pastor, but I agree with the LCMS position that she is no longer an orthodox Lutheran church.

I was baptized in the Augustana Synod, which was named for our primary confession of faith. It is sad to say that her offspring would have a hard time articulating that confession.

More later....

Matthias said...

Let's hope that Old nick ,who was probably laughing at the ELCA decision,will be not so happy now.However another Christian denomination arises as a result of heresy and apostasy. Martin luther needs to be hammering again on the doors of ELCA . Wonder what they would do if the Lord Jesus knocked on their doors in judgement? Repent or call a meeting to discuss whether it is to be met with a Higher critical or culturally relevant approach?

acroamaticus said...

Keep us updated, Jon.

acroamaticus said...

The tragedy is, Matthias, your imagined scenario may not be too far from the truth.

Matthias said...

Yes sadly pASTOR,but the time will come when they will be compelled to the Judgement Seat of Christ-as we all will

acroamaticus said...

Indeed. Lord, have mercy!

Melanchthon said...

From another pastor (since he put it so well):

"Lutheran Hermaneutic: The issue in the division of the ELCA is not a variance of hermaneutics. Its a matter of one group having a hermaneutic and the other not bothering with one. The revisionists in the ELCA (and elsewhere) are pretty clear that the issue is not *what* the Bible says, but that *what they say* is greater than anything the Bible could say. They believe that the Bible speaks to a generation no longer in existence, and that its only remaining function is to point us vaguely in the right direction. Underlying this is a subtle arrogance that this generation is greater than any other generation of Christians - because we are finally capable of receiving the revelation(s) that that Spirit has had for us all along."

Kyrie eleison. Pray for us all.

Melanchthon said...

From another pastor (who states the situation well):

"Lutheran Hermaneutic: The issue in the division of the ELCA is not a variance of hermaneutics. Its a matter of one group having a hermaneutic and the other not bothering with one. The revisionists in the ELCA (and elsewhere) are pretty clear that the issue is not *what* the Bible says, but that *what they say* is greater than anything the Bible could say. They believe that the Bible speaks to a generation no longer in existence, and that its only remaining function is to point us vaguely in the right direction. Underlying this is a subtle arrogance that this generation is greater than any other generation of Christians - because we are finally capable of receiving the revelation(s) that that Spirit has had for us all along."

Pray for us here in la-la land.

acroamaticus said...

Jon,
I came across this from a recent public address by Bishop James Crumley, who as presiding bishop of the Lutheran Church of America was involved in the formation of the ELCA in 1988:
"At this point we must turn to the place of Scripture in such decisions as defined in the
Constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Underlying the constitutions of the
churchwide, synodical and congregational unit there is a carefully written Statement of Faith.
There are seven paragraphs in that confession and each not only states the position of the ELCA
but a truth that is also church-defining. For example, the first paragraph confesses the triune God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A group cannot deny that article and be a church. The same applies
to the next paragraph which speaks of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. A group denying that
statement could not be a Christian church.
Then a subparagraph says: "The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the
written Word of God. Inspired b y God's Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and
announce God's creation centering in Jesus Christ."
Then paragraph three is crucial to our concern here: "This church accepts the canonical
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative
source and norm for its proclamation, faith and life."
Now our question becomes even clearer: "Was the action of the assembly mandating the
certification and/or ordination of same-gender relationships based on the careful study of the
Scriptures as recorded in the Bible?"
I conclude that there is no evidence based on the text of Scripture which permits or mandates the
change as stated in the new policy adopted at the assembly. The action rather was
unconstitutional and violated a part of the Confession of Faith. On that basis, the appropriate
question is whether the ELCA is still without question a faithful and confessing church. I
conclude that the ELCA has placed itself in a precarious position. Can I recognize my
membership as authentic and God-serving in the fullest and truest sense?
As I make such a personal judgment I understand that many faithful and committed people arrive
at a different conclusion. I know quite well that there are many different interpretations of
Scripture. There is one approach from those who are deep into historical criticism with which I
disagree: the supposition that homosexuality in the Scriptures speaks of a totally different
situation from our modern one and thus such passages may be dismissed as not applicable to our
modern discourse. Bishop Mark Hanson stated the view recently: "The understanding we have of homosexuality does not seem to be reflected at all in the context of Biblical writers." To dismiss the passages of the Bible concerning homosexuality as irrelevant is beyond my understanding and appears to me to negate the authority of the Scriptures.

acroamaticus said...

Btw, Jon, I understand what you say about being conflicted about the formation fo a new denomination in the US. Looking at the big picture, though, I see it as a positive because it could lead to closer relations between confessional Lutherans in the long run. It also helps people to keep their conscience clear, and there is no Biblical prohibition against denominations per se. And, in any case,the fault for the split lies with those who have departed from orthodox teaching on faith and life.