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13 August 2005
  ELCA Continues on Long and Winding Road
Some zigging, others zagging ... who's on the straight path?

As noted in a previous post, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) moved into closer communion fellowship with the United Methodists. Observers within and without that body were then freed to speculate what would happen on the (homo-)sexuality resolutions.

After all the smoke cleared … uh, wait, there's still plenty of smoke (and mirrors) remaining  … the homosexuality resolutions were either passed in watered-down form or else defeated outright. Regarding pastoral care, the ELCA voted to "welcome gay and lesbian persons into its life (as stated in Churchwide Assembly resolutions from 1991, 1995, and 1999), and trust pastors and congregations to discern ways to provide faithful pastoral care to all to whom they minister." The phrase "to all to whom they minister" replaced "to same-sex couples" in the original resolution. Basically, they allow each pastor to be as (in-)discreet as he (or she!) chooses in dealing with people choosing to exercise this anti-Scriptural lifestyle. They didn't establish rites and procedures for "blessing" or "marrying" same-sex couples; however, they didn't bar their clergy from so doing.

However, when it came to allowing the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals under a "special circumstances" provision, the assembly not only kept it from receiving the necessary 2/3 majority, they defeated it by a simple (although close) majority vote. This was done as some 100 rainbow scarved protestors stood silently before the assembly.

There's more, but these illustrate the difficulty that the ELCA and related bodies will continue to have in propping up their "big tents" of inclusiveness. It seems in the case of that ELCA as all eyes have been upon the radical left, they've had a core of American Evanglicals growing in their midst. Sprouting from cell groups, Promise Keepers, Alpha Ministries, contemporary worship centers, and the like, a different body of non-Lutheran thought is entrenching itself. Many of these people, while not "conservative" or "confessional" in a way recognizable in the LCMS, still are mindful of morality and will probably continue to oppose at least some of the most liberal thought in the ELCA.

It's funny, in a sad, thoughtful, ironic way, that many of those who resisted the most radical wishes of the pro-homosexual lobby probably came from ethnic outreach spurred in part by the very liberals whose desires they ended up opposing.

What's not funny is how so many people — both proponents and opponents of advancing the homosexual cause — could twist, mangle, or thoroughly ignore Holy Scripture. Granted, most claimed the biblical high road. However, while they pointed to the text, most actually practiced some form of pretext. As a body, the ELCA seems completely unaware that the Gospel is not "everybody gets to do what he damned well pleases."

What a strange display we've seen: The Gospel misunderstood and misapplied, legalism squaring off againt antinomianism as "moral" ELCAites hold back homosexual ordination. Meanwhile, women and avowed homosexuals male and female (im-)pastor congregations, gain bishoprics, and wield influence throughout the body. Communion theology is twisted so no one feels left out and people are invited to eat and drink "without discerning the body" of Christ and thus eat and drink "judgment" upon themselves (1 Cor 11:29 ESV).

Now the confessional heirs of the Reformation have months of explaining ahead of us as we try to point out that whatever the "L" in ELCA stands for, it sure as L doesn't stand for Lutheran anymore.

I wonder if the Grateful's Dead's "What a Long, Strange Trip It Has Been" will make it into the new ELCA hymnal.
 
Comments:
"Conservative" among the groups which make up the ELCA means "Pietist" by definition.

They didn't have far to go to become generic "Evangelicals" when they started.
 
You leave out the possibility that there exists in the ELCA a faithful confessional remnant.
 
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