Tales from the darkside

The Churchwide Assembly the ELCA nomenclatura has been working toward ever since the 1988 merger is now in session in Minneapolis. This is it, people. The long effort of the Powers that Be in the ELCA to force homosexuality down the throats, so to speak, of the church's laity will culminate in final success at this convention.

Only the naive believe that the assurances that nobody will be forced to act contrary to their "bound consciences" with regard to gay pastors or gay "marriage" are worth the paper they're printed on. The entire logic of the homosexualist position is that rejection of active homosexuality on moral grounds constitutes "discrimination" against gays. The difference between rejecting a race or ethnic group and rejecting behavior escapes the sexual Left; after all, they reason, if homosexuality is inborn (or at least a matter beyond a person's control), then to disapprove of it is bigotry. The thought that one could choose, on biblical grounds, to be celibate even if one is of homosexual orientation is not even to be discussed. As it was with women clergy, so it will be with gay clergy: within a decade, those who oppose the ordination of gays will themselves be marginalized and perhaps even denied the right to serve as ELCA pastors.

The usual nonsense about how this is all a matter of biblical interpretation, and how different people interpret the rather clear and straightforward passages in both Testaments concerning homosexuality, is being spouted not only by the homosexualists, but also by the secularist Left in the media. The ELCA's new study bible, it should be noted, has a footnote explaining that the Greek words used throughout Greek literature to describe the active and passive partners in consensual homosexual acts somehow actually only refer to non-consensual acts. In a church body in which Post-Modernism holds sway to the extent that it does in the ELCA, facts are never allowed to get in the way of The Agenda, and the argument that black is actually white and that contradiction of the clear meaning of words is nothing more than a difference in interpretation has been standard for decades.

The interesting thing about the grotesque events in the Twin Cities will be how the relatively conservative laity of the ELCA will react. A church sponsored poll recently revealed that 54% of ELCA pastors favored the full acceptance of non-celebate homosexuals in so-called "covenanted relationships;" that such relationships are rarely exclusive and tend not to last very long does not stop the homosexualists from making the same grotesque arguments made in the civil realm for homosexual "marriages," which- at least where gay men are concerned- are seldom either sexually exclusive or lasting. The laity, on the other hand, tend still to believe that words mean things, and are much less accepting of this nonsense than their pastors.

The trouble is that hitherto they have lacked the courage to do anything about it. When I walked out of our Synod Assembly over a decade ago after it defeated a resolution calling on a synodical sexuality task force to be balanced between traditionalists and homosexualists, explaining that I could no longer recognize the ELCA as the church as defined in the seventh article of the Augsburg Confession, it took me half an hour to get out of the hall. Lay people kept stopping me and asking me not to leave the ELCA, announcing their own intention to "stay and fight."

They had done precious little fighting when a handful of us pastors had stood up to oppose the homosexualist juggernaut, choosing to remain silent in their seats. And if I had a thousand dollars for every lick of fighting the people I spoke to on the way out of the hall that day have done since then, my guess is that I would not have enough money to buy a good used car.

My own congregations, rationalizing that "it doesn't affect us," accepted then- Bishop Phil Hougen's tap dance concerning the authority of Scripture in the ELCA very willingly indeed. A decade of work trying to turn St. Paul's and St. Andrew's into Lutheran congregations went out the window virtually at the moment I ceased to be their pastor. They are now served by a woman; even among these people, who sincerely spoke of their desire to be governed by Scripture, the epistemology of the ELCA has prevailed. That epistemology was stated well by the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland: "When I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to mean, nothing more or less."

That Mad Hatter hermeneutic will climax this week in an action which, as I have already noted, even Wolfhart Pannenberg, the favorite theologian of retired Wartburg Seminary systematician Duane Priebe, maintains will deprive the ELCA of any claim to membership in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

But what will the laity do? There is talk of a split in the ELCA. I would not be surprised if a small number of conservative congregations do break off. The new church body they form will likely have very little about it that is Lutheran, either; the Confessions have played no real role in the theological life of the average ELCA congregation for so long that even ELCA conservatives tend, as a practical matter, to be Reformed Evangelicals with a high view of the Sacraments. Sometimes. In the more pietistic corners of the ELCA, not even a belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper or baptismal regeneration can be taken for granted.

I wonder what the people at St. Paul's and St. Andrew's are saying to themselves right now. Whatever it is, I predict that they'll find a way to live with the travesty in Minneapolis, and tell themselves that "it doesn't effect us here."

They're wrong, of course. The content of the preaching and the catechesis in a church body which has no real regard for either Scripture or the Confessions cannot help but differ from those in a church body in which they hold real authority. But having rationalized their way to this point, I have no doubt that the laity of the ELCA will be able, for the most part, to rationalize their way even around this.

Most, I suspect, will chose to stay and tell themselves that they're fighting.


Pomeranus said…
I can attest to Pastor Waters' experience with lay people begging him to stay. It happened repeatedly. There were also pastors who pledge support of the resolution of which Pastor Waters writes. The resolution with all the whereas statements had been read by them and input requested. In the end, they voted against the resolution. When I asked why, they claimed that one of the whereas statements was too divisive. No mention was made of these concerns when the resolution was discussed among us. I believe it is not unfair that to say that this demonstrated a lack of courage of conviction.

May God have mercy on those faithful lay people who are in the care of hirelings and wolves.

Michael Zamzow
El Cid said…
So let's assume that I am a member and I have four children that need to learn the bible and go to Sunday School.

What am I to do?
Take an active interest in the doctrine of the church body to which you belong. Insist on straight answers from your pastor and from your bishop. Go to Synod Assemblies. Speak up for the truth. Insist on it. Demand it- for the sake of those four children.

Refuse to allow error to be treated as a viable alternative to the truth. Insist that your pastor preach the truth. Utilize whatever influence you can muster- including not only your voice and vote at congregational meetings and synod assemblies, but your contributions- to combat apostasy.
Do everything possible to see that your fellow members are aware of the issues and of what is going on.

And if your pastor is not teaching the truth, hold him accountable. If you're not able to, for the sake of those kids get them to a congregation where the Word is taught in its purity and the Sacraments are administered according to the Gospel. Don't simply trust what you read in The Lutheran; seek out the readily available alternative sources of information. There are a great many "resistance" organizations in the ELCA; few, if any, are wholly reliable theologically, but all are better than Higgins Road.

And if things finally get to the point where your voice is stifled or ineffective, leave. Join a congregation where those kids will learn about the Bible instead of a Left wing social agenda.

Above all, make yourself heard. Just because you're a member of Christ's flock doesn't mean that you have to act like a sheep. Hold your shepherds at all levels accountable- and simply refuse to let any of them feed you or family adulterated food.

Sound off. Make a nuisence of yourself. Witness for your faith.
Insist that those kids get what you know they need, and in a pure and unadulterated form. And do anything it takes to get it for them.

Don't let the wolves make them their prey.
Oh, and one more thing: if you can't do anything else, remember the example of Joshua and Hur. If your pastor is faithful and trying to witness to the truth, support him. Hold up his arms when they start to falter. Never, ever let him think that you don't care. And don't let the Powers that Be think that, either.
El Cid said…
Pastor Waters:

Thank you for your help and advice. On August 24, the Monday after the ELCA church-wide asembly, I drove my oldest daughter to Concordia College in Moorhead. While motoring through the Twin Cities, we stopped at Central Lutheran to see the damaged steeple and stand in the sanctuary where the Good Soil celebration had been. I cannot describe how "weird" it all seemed.

Nevertheless, upon returning home to California we switched to a LCMS congregation. My two younger children are enrolled in their soldily biblical confirmation class.

I have mixed feelings about not staying in the ELCA and fighting the good fight. In my former congregation of over 1,000, it felt like I was the only layperson that either new what happened or even cared.

With the new church therre is a new start, and I have committed to becoming very involved and much more educated. I will heed your advice of Joshua and Hur in our new church.

Thank you for your support and concern for my family.
James Young said…
We had a similar experience, TheMonteVI, though I did not attend the CWS. Afterwards, as I considered our course in anticipation of our annual congregational meeting, I attempted to discern the positions of our Church Council. Couldn't get a straight answer, pardon the pun. Not support for the CWS's actions, just ... non-commital. Found out only then that a single Church Council member had resigned over the decision, when the rest of the Church Council refused to discuss it.

And when I stood up to raise the issue of our continued relationship with ELCA at the congregational meeting, my wife had to second my motion to proceed to any discussion, and when I asked "What manner of deviancy will the ELCA endorse next?" our "pastoer" --- channeling Caiaphas, if I'm not mistaken --- interrupted me and declared that "offensive."

It was at that point that I painfully realized that we would be leaving our congregation of 20 years, the only congregation my sons --- 13 and 9 --- had ever known. Painful, but necessary.

It was gut wrenching. What was even more gut-wrenching was the realization that I didn't know those people any more. Not sure I ever did.

However, we found a very welcoming LCMS congregation, one which treats biblical teaching seriously. Interestingly enough, we have received a warm welcome even though they are in the midst of a call process, from a vacancy pastor.

James Young
(Formerly) St. Matthew's, Woodbridge, Virginia
El Cid said…

I hope that the transition goes well for you and your family.

My two younger children are 12 and 14. The 14-year-old has had mixed feelings about the change. The transition to a different Confirmation class syllabus and making new friends was a big step for her.

But as you said, the LCMS church that we moved to here in Murrieta CA could not have been more accommodating or welcoming.

I give you a lot of credit for at least standing up and engaging in the good fight!

Thank God for both of you. You care about the eternal destiny of your children, and are willing to stand up in their defense against the wolves.