Friday, August 28, 2009

Reforming to Scripture or Reforming to Culture?

Our culture is embracing same sex marriage and promoting homosexuality as normal practice. The latest denomination to reform itself to the culture’s values is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The ELCA news service ran this article on August 13, 2009, ELCA Clergy Support Gay, Lesbian Rights, Ordination, Survey Says.[1] Then on August 19, 2009, the social statement "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust" was amended and adopted by a more than two-thirds majority vote at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, meeting in Minneapolis.[2] On August 21, the official ELCA NEWS SERVICE posted an article, ELCA Assembly Opens Ministry to Partnered Gay and Lesbian Lutherans.[3]

Within the ELCA there is a group that is concerned with reforming to Scripture called Lutheran CORE.[4] The opening line of the ministry section that describes who they are says: “Lutheran CORE is a coalition of pastors, lay people, congregations and reforming groups. We seek to preserve within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America the authority of the Word of God according to the Lutheran confessions.” In a news release,[5] Mark Chavez, director of the Lutheran Coalition for Reform (CORE), says, Lutheran CORE leaders renounce ELCA decision to endorse gay marriage and to allow pastors to be in same-sex relationships. Ryan Schwarz of Washington, D.C., a member of the Lutheran CORE Steering Committee stated, “The assembly has voted to remove the ELCA from the universal Christian consensus on marriage and homosexual behavior. Lutheran CORE intends to remain faithful to the clear teaching of Scripture and the consistent teaching of the Christian Church worldwide and throughout time.” For those who appreciate the late Martin Luther, you have to appreciate this group within the ELCA who desire to stop the slide further to the left of Scripture. Schwarz also went on to say, “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.” It is also refreshing to hear the words of Jaynan Clark, president of the WordAlone Network, (The WordAlone Network is one of the renewal organizations that make up Lutheran CORE) say: “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.”

Be careful when you say that Lutherans are embracing gay clergy. Remember that under the heading of any denominational name like Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Methodist there are subgroups that range from liberal to conservative and differing degrees between the two poles. Under the name, “Lutheran” you have the Evangelical Lutherans Church in America, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has a statement regarding the latest discussion of the ELCA. Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, president of LCMS, said, “ELCA’s vote is contrary to the synod’s biblical interpretation. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has repeatedly affirmed as its own position the historical understanding of the Christian church that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior as ‘intrinsically sinful.’ It is therefore contrary to the will of the Creator and constitutes sin against the commandments of God.”[6]
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod has also made a statement regarding ELCA’s recent decision. Rev. Mark Schroeder, president of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), stated, “To view same-sex relationships as acceptable to God is to place cultural viewpoint and human opinions above the clear Word of God.”[7]

Luther was determined throughout his life to reform his beliefs to the authoritative Word of God. It seems that the ELCA is determined to reform their beliefs to the norms of society. The Bible condemns homosexuality and the ELCA condones it? Pray for those within the ELCA, such as CORE, who are taking a stand. Thank God for the other Lutheran groups seeking to stay faithful to Scripture regarding the issue of homosexuality.
We must always be reforming ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture—God help us to stand!

A must read:

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