John 3:21

John 3:21
"It is the nature of all hypocrites and false prophets to create a conscience where there is none, and to cause conscience to disappear where it does exist." Martin Luther

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

ELCA congregations must reform church

Wake up people!!!

ELCA congregations must reform church

Many Lutherans no doubt have read with interest the recent newspaper articles regarding turmoil in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America about sexuality. Lutherans need to know, however, that the issue at hand is much larger than gay clergy or even homosexuality in general.
For a number of decades, the ELCA and its predecessor denominations have been sliding down a slope that adopts our culture's view of certain issues. For example, much of the church no longer believes in a literal hell or Satan. Probably a majority of the ELCA no longer believes that abortion and euthanasia are murder, and, of course, most of us know that much of the church believes that sexual preference is a matter of individual choice.
My purpose here is not to debate these issues. For me, the issues I mentioned are not debatable since God's stance is revealed to us in his Word.
Certainly, God's Word is a living Word. Otherwise it would be of no value for readers and hearers who find themselves 2,000 years removed from the latest biblical writing. However, God's written Word contains certain truths that come to the New Testament from the Old Testament, unchanged by time or culture, and it is these truths that are in question.
It has been said recently that homosexuality and other social issues have nothing to do with salvation. Therefore, we can agree to disagree. But the issue really is, can God's written Word be trusted? This has everything to do with salvation because if the Word cannot be trusted, how can we be sure of the Bible's revelation of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross?
Debating and voting on issues such as homosexual practice is identical to debating and voting on the correctness of the Bible and is therefore heresy. For that reason I left the ELCA several years ago when this debate started.
How did Lutherans get to this point of voting on whether to believe the Bible? We got here because congregations and their members have been sleeping. In the minister's occasional service book published in 1962 for use in The American Lutheran Church, one of the ELCA's predecessors, these instructions are given to congregational councils upon their installation: "It will be your duty to see that ... the pure Word of God be preached, as the Church confesses it."
Note that it is the congregation's job in our Lutheran tradition, not Big Brother's job, to see that the "pure Word of God be preached." If this had been done for the past 50 years, we would not be where we are today. Congregations have allowed the national church to put itself above Christ and his Word.
So where do ELCA congregations go from here? Reform the church. How do they do that? See that the pure Word of God be preached. If that involves their current pastor, great. If not, so be it.
What of the ELCA? What of it? The ELCA leadership will do what it does regardless of what Christ's church does; there is too much power involved for this to be repaired from within.
Where will your congregation affiliate? Don't worry so much about that. After all, Martin Luther said the church is wherever "the Gospel is preached in its purity and the holy sacraments are administered."
So join the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, which was founded for just this purpose, or choose another existing Lutheran body, or be independent. The important thing is that the church, one congregation at a time, be reformed. To do that, congregations will have to take responsibility.
Is this easy and without ramifications? No, but like Luther 500 years ago, we cannot be concerned about ramifications because the task is too important. Lutheran involvement in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that no longer sees the need for that Gospel is at stake. Salvation or damnation for millions of people is at stake.
I implore Lutherans to stop waiting to see what happens. Satan's plan is what is happening, but it can be reversed. Stop sitting on your hands, stop debating, stop talking and reform the church.
The Rev. Glen A. Peterson, 48, of Sioux Falls is the pastor of the Faith Lutheran Church in Humboldt - a Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ congregation.
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Jamieson said...

Yup, we can't afford to be silent on this. Polling the congregation to see what they think is fine for choosing a paint color but it's NOT the way to discern God's Truth. Time to wake up.

Anonymous said...

There are serious days in the Lutheran expresion of Christianity. Some want to hold onto their heritage and the many fine attributes of their church organization. What they seem to be asleep at the wheel about is that the doctrines of the church have now changed and their churches will, without reform, change to become less and less of a church. Jump from the sinking ship! Jesus is the life saver!