I know that by now this is no longer “news” for many, but sometimes – with sad news – I need time to ponder and percolate. For me the Old Testament readings over the past two weeks have been a very powerful commentary by our Lord on all that has happened in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America … and their heart-wrenching decision to abandon the clear words of Holy Scripture.
Deuteronomy 4:1 “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you … 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? 9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children–
Isaiah 29:11 And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12 And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.” 13 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, 14 therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” 15 Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” 16 You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? 17 Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? 18 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
Isa 29:19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
You see, what is at the heart of the matter is not our love for one another, but GOD’S love for us. A love that warns us away from all that would harm our eternal welfare. God’s Word is never ever in the habit of condoning sin, because any sin – All Sin – is an affront to God. God’s Word is His revealed love for us … A love that calls sin, SIN … but then sends His precious Son to pay for that sin to forgive that sin. Lose, change or ignore the first and you forfeit the second!
But here are some quotes that say it much better than me:
“The ELCA Confession of Faith says that Scripture is ‘source and norm’ of the church’s faith and life, but this assembly has shown that the ELCA is willing to violate what it officially says it believes about the Bible,” Schwarz said. “It is appalling that ELCA leaders brought these proposals to a vote. The church should not be voting on whether or not to follow the teaching of the Bible.” “Luther’s stand was on the Word of God and sound reason. He was not convinced then, and we are not convinced now. We just voted out the Word of God, sound reason and the good orders of creation,” said Jaynan Clark of Spokane, Wash., president of the WordAlone Network. -Lutheran Coalition for Reform
This is not about sexuality or homosexuality. Some will try to make it about this but that is not the cause of such great sadness and distance. No, what is the greater issue here is the way in which a church body has disconnected its current life and confession from Scripture and its Confessions. This is the real issue. It is not about gays or lesbians but about the choice to make the gospel (small g in this case) a principle instead of a message and to set this principle of tolerance, acceptance, liberation, and freedom against the clear passages of Scripture which clearly define sexuality within the context of male and female, marriage and family. For in setting up the rationale for this departure from what Christianity has always understood, the ELCA has put into place the very mechanism to depart from the very Gospel (big G – meaning the cross and empty tomb) itself. This is the inevitable outcome when gospel becomes the legitimacy for any new understanding or new idea that once was clearly prohibited in Scripture and tradition. Indeed the real issue is what do we have left when gospel stands in opposition to the clear words of Scripture? Surely it is the Gospel — the message of Jesus Christ and the salvation He won for us by His death and resurrection — that is lost when the church has the freedom to oppose Scripture or to disregard what Scripture has clearly said and the Church believed for two millenia (and longer in the OT). -Pastor Peters
There are some fine documents in the LCMS that state positively what we believe, teach, and confess (in accord with Scripture). I offer you links to several of those below:
1. Marriage and Human Sexuality
2. Legislation Regarding Same Sex Unions
3. What About Homosexuality
4. Ministry Plan to Homosexuals
5. Initial Response to the ELCA Proposal
6. The Contemporary Debate on Homosexual Clergy
I would also encourage you to read the official position of my own Lutheran Church Canada:
I pray that my fellow brothers and sisters (not just in the ELCA, not just in Lutheranism but in all of Christianity) would consider again the clear Words of God on this, and every topic of life, faith, and church policy. THe traditions of men may seem just and fair and loving and kind and all sorts of other virtuous things rolled into one … but none of that matters if it flys in the face of God and His will revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures. God’s Word will remain forever, but the decisions of men will fade like yesterday’s news.
Listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you … Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.