23 August 2009

What's Sad

About so many of the folks who are mobilizing within the ELCA is that they do not see or believe that there is an intimate connection between the process whereby the Word of God was set aside as normative on the matter of Women's Ordination and the manner in which it can be set aside on norming human sexuality. The root of the problem is deeper than "fixing" what the Church Wide Assembly has enacted; the same bitter root will bear its evil fruit further down the road if it is not addressed. And so many are inoculated against hearing our witness on this by having been taught that we just "fundamentalists" in our approach to the Sacred Scripture. I pray that the current crisis may lead our brothers and sisters in the ELCA to look deeper than the symptom to the underlying cause. "But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My Word." Isaiah 66:2

37 comments:

Daniel said...

You are right in your diagnosis as far is at goes. However,the challenge for ELCA churchmen who are looking for safe ground is that many of them see the achilles heel of the LCMS as being given over to "Contemporary Worship". Both a low view of Scripture AND liturgy are equally destructive. They are two sides of the same coin. For each deal with a departure from worshipping God as the One who reveals the Body of Christ through Scripture and Liturgy unto an approach which is conceived in the mind and emotions of man.

Thus, the godly churchmen in the LCMS must ask themselves why they got to where they are in the matter of departing from Liturgy. And if the answer is that the problem is a departure from Scripture, then nothing has been learned. For Scripture alone IS INSUFFICIENT to norm what takes place on a Sunday morning; it is not a complete Encyclopedia of the Christian Faith. Only the Holy Spirit working in the Church is able to guide us in all matters of our faith. Only He can keep us in that One, True Faith.

Fr Daniel Hackney

Daniel said...

And how does the Spirit work this in the Church? By His people carefully and reverently passing down the PARADOSIS to each successive generation. To attempt to do this apart from this process will prove futile, and may well drive one to despair. But thank God that He does not desire the death of us sinners, but that WE come to repentance- and live.

Father Daniel Hackney

William Weedon said...

Father, that you believe that explains why you are an Orthodox priest; but I DO believe that Scripture is sufficient to norm what takes place in the Eucharistic gathering.

Note, though, that "to norm" is not to say that the Scriptures are the only source for what takes place in the gathering, although the content of our liturgy is entirely in harmony with the Sacred Scriptures. But the answer to fighting the incursion of Pentecostal liturgy in the Lutheran Church will not be found by undercutting the exclusivity of the Scriptural norm. It will be found by recognizing the nature of liturgy as prayed CONFESSION of the faith. But that requires a long post...

Lucian said...

What's Sad

Not "what", Father, but "who?".

Phil said...

Pr. Weedon, I agree completely. I keep thinking about the point made here by Past Elder on a number of occasions: that the danger is to picture what we would like the Church to be like and then to prop up this particular target by means of a "Magisterium," whether it looks like the modern-day Roman hierarchy or like a present-day voting majority in a particular denomination or political party. Simply pick the "end" you desire, and invoke an "authority" to justify your "end", apart from Scripture. Once you've reached that point, the only thing guiding church doctrine and practice is the will of men.

Kaleb said...

Pr. Weedon,

I believe you are correct when you say that setting aside the Word of God is really at the heart of all this, and that women's ordination is a major example of this in the case of the ELCA.

I am curious what you make of denominations that accept women's ordination, or in cases like Foursquare were even founded upon it, yet they have maintained fairly consistent (albeit faulty) doctrine and are not falling into this kind of moral compromise?

Daniel said...

To clarify my comments, Orthodoxy sees Holy Scripture as within the Paradosis; it is a very important part of what is handed down (along with prayers, liturgies, icons, hymns, sign of cross, etc). But detached from that community which Christ founded, the Scriptures AND the Divine Service are open to whatever whim becomes accepted at the moment. For apart from the power of the Spirit working in the church, an individual or tradition is in over his head.

Regarding traditions such as Foursquare, the Pentecostal movement was used by the devil to introduce women ministers. Just because they have not officially accepted a certain vice does not mean that they hold to the Truth.

Finally, thank you Pastor Weedon for your willingness to allow those of differing opinions to post on your blog. Some other blogs whose names and traditions will be not be mentioned are run Soviet Style in order to shape public opinion.

Fr Daniel Hackney

William Weedon said...

Kaleb,

What Fr. Daniel wrote about Foursquare, but I'd also add: wait and see whether it will finally crumble too.

Fr. Daniel,

Agreed that the Scriptures and the Divine Service literally live within the community that is our Savior's living body; but within that living body the Sacred Scriptures are the norm above all norms that indicates when something alien to the Body's life has invaded. I realize how you meant your statement to read; I trust you realize how I intend mine to read.

As for the open nature of the blog, I am happy that those who share a common Baptism into Christ feel welcome here, for they are.

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is the stream of ELCA Lutherans into RCC. They don't have female priests, open communion, or consistent reverent worship. So why not LCMS? Are we seen as just too fundamentalist and provincial?

I have a hard time understanding how so many Lutherans would compromise the central article of the church in return for an allegorical interpretation of Genesis. Or is it something else?

Kaleb said...

I think that for people who have spent their entire lives in the ELCA and its predecessors and finally could not take the compromise anymore, it must be difficult to accept the idea of joining another distressed denomination. Rome, even with its Vatican II issues, is not distressed in the same way that the LCMS is.

I knew coming in four years ago that the LCMS was in trouble; but I think it was different for me because I grew up in the Pentecostal environment of doctrinal instability and liturgical chaos. The kind of creeping change the Lutheran denominations are confronting is certainly troubling to me, but I don't get the same feeling that ELCA refugees must surely experience, where they would think, "I can't go through this again." Compared to what happens in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, the LCMS is certainly far more manageable. In some respects it almost seems like a rock of stability by comparison.

I can't imagine an ELCA person joining WELS or most of the smaller Lutheran denominations...those would definitely be too fundie.

Kaleb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
christl242 said...

What I don't get is the stream of ELCA Lutherans into RCC.

Because the ELCA adopted a liturgy that had much in common with that of the novus ordo after Vatican II, among other things.

Christine

christl242 said...

Rome, even with its Vatican II issues, is not distressed in the same way that the LCMS is.

Kaleb, rest assured that Rome has plenty of distress these days. I wasted ten years in the RC after leaving the ELCA.

Even with all the problems in the LCMS I am so glad to be here.

Christine

christl242 said...

Rome, even with its Vatican II issues, is not distressed in the same way that the LCMS is.

Kaleb, rest assured that Rome has plenty of distress these days. I wasted ten years in the RC after leaving the ELCA.

Even with all the problems in the LCMS I am so glad to be here.

Christine

christl242 said...

Sorr-eeeee for the double post!

Christine

Oruaseht said...

Too often we (LCMS) are quick to jump up on the "not-as-bad-as-them" pedestal. "Chief of Sinners though I be, the ELCA is worse than me!" Fr. Daniel's comment is well taken. How can we think our Synodical schisms - particularly regarding Liturgy as take it or leave it adiaphora - are any *better* than those of liberal Lutheran groups? Too often we fall into the trap of "God's gonna smite them for their sin, but at least it's not us!" Christ have mercy!

Anonymous said...

my wife and I were members of an ELCA congregation, we new in 2005 that this vote was coming. We considered going to Rome until we found a confessional LC-MS congregation that changed our minds.

Dixie said...

So why not LCMS? Are we seen as just too fundamentalist and provincial?

I always wondered about this. In our smallish Southern city we have 2 Lutheran churches, one LCMS and one ELCA. For a while the company I work for was recruiting specific talent which is more prevalent in the Midwest. We had 5 ELCA families from Iowa recruited by the company. The ELCA church in town has a reputation for being very closed, cold and unwelcoming. Most who visit there are completely turned off. Such was the case with these 5 families. I invited them all to my LCMS church at the time. Our congregation had a reputation of being exceedingly friendly. They practiced open communion so no one was excluded. I thought the LCMS church was the perfect solution for them...but not so. Of the 5 families, one found an ELCA church 40 minutes away, 3 joined one of the Methodist churches in town and one joined one of the bizillion Baptist churches.

After a while I asked these folks why they didn't choose the LCMS church. One candidly admitted that her Iowa ELCA pastor told their family to go ANYWHERE rather than to an LCMS church. Two others said that the LCMS church wasn't out in the community doing service which was important to them.

There must be something deeper in ELCA culture that keeps them from considering the LCMS. Oh sure...some do, but so many more do not. I suspect it has to do with a sense of "fundamentalism" they see in the LCMS and also a lack of social action. I think for the ELCAer social action is as much a part of the faith as anything.

Just my observations. It is an interesting puzzle.

Chris said...

Why would disenfranchised ELCAers be considering swimming the Tiber? Despite the Novus Ordo and the secularization of the mass, there is a real, strong trend now of worship that is returning to the Tridentine Extraordinary Rite (i.e. pre-Vatican II) of the Mass. And that has great appeal to many and it may be a refuge for the departing ELCAers. Let's not forget that the ELCA, as part of the Lutheran World Federation, signed with the Vatican that joint declaration on justification. So, to them, maybe it won't be too much of a stretch.

As a side note, I wonder what will be the fate of that declaration since I think most of the LWF members ordain practicing gays?

With regards to what Dixie said about the ELCAers who complained that the LCMS doesn't do service projects, there is a little truth to that, at least as far as the whole synod goes. INdividual LCMS churches do a lot. Of course, for the ELCA, they have so depersonalized helping their fellow man and made their stewardship (I'm talking about the synod here) as helping for helping's sake, in other words, a type of works righteousness.

Anonymous said...

Dixie mentioned that "for the ELCAer social action is as much a part of the faith as anything." I can corroborate that statement. I interact with ELCA seminary students at Luther Seminary and they regard social action as essential to the Gospel. When I talk about "justification of the ungodly" their hackles are raised (to them that is truncated and "not enough").

christl242 said...

There's also no mystery at all about the mindset in the ELCA since they adopted the "Vatican II for Lutherans" culture. Social Justice is the biggie in the ELCA along with the historical-critical view of Scripture. It ain't fashionable to believe that Jesus actually DID those miracles.

Having said that, there are faithful, orthodox Christians within the ELCA that now have some hard decisions to make.

When I left my ELCA parish to go to Rome I had also heard that the LCMS had gone "fundamentalist." What a shame I didn't investigate further, for myself -- I could have joined the confessional LMCS parish I am in now much, much sooner.

And quite frankly, I think the wrong questions are being asked here. We're all sinners, whether RC, EO, LCMS, ELCA or any other Christian body.

The fact still remains that the ELCA has adopted positions on women's ordination, Scripture, marriage etc. etc. that are outside the bounds of orthodox Christianity.

And to that issue a prophetic word is very much in order.

Christine

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting to note, that we seem to discuss the ELCA's "departuer from Scripture" or "setting aside the Word of God" and cite women's ordination as an example of that.

And in so doing... i think we sometimes fall in that trap of "feeling we are better than them".

What is interesting... is not one person has at least raised the question of how the LCMS has set aside the Word of God... in the exact same way!

We focus on deviations from Liturgy and debate about whether it is Scriptural... but ignore discussions of clear cases where LCMS has abandoned God's Word.

I am referring to the Scriptural imperative that a Pastor be "husband of one wife". The exact same scripture we use as the scriptural case against women's ordination.

And i know for certain that we have a number of Pastor's in the LCMS who have been divorced and are remarried.

How is it that we ignore our own clear deviations from Scripture? How do we justify that? How do we rationalize how that deviation is ok... but ordaining women is clearly a setting aside of God's word?

How do we as a Church body think that we will NOT end up like ELCA in 5 years? 10? or 20?

We can see clearly where their setting aside the Word of God led them... yet we seem to wear blinders when we look at our own Church body... what keeps us from going further down that slippery slope?

Just curious here... and curious what others think...

Not to be mean or argumentative... I am curious to others thinking on this?

Matt

Rev. Kevin Vogts said...

>>So why not LCMS?

I've served most of my ministry in mission congregations, and most of my flock are former something -- and quite a few former nothing.

Ironically, often those most resistant to joining the LCMS are former ELCA, for two polar opposite reasons.

For some, the LCMS has indeed been painted as extreme fundamentalist bordering on cultish. One woman said she had been told that females were not allowed to speak at all inside an LCMS church building and was surprised to see females chatting -- with males no less! -- during coffee time after church.

But, I would say more typical is a very sad degradation of the "Lutheran" brand. One couple I visited with recently was flabbergasted to learn there is still a major Lutheran church body out there that: a) doesn't have women clergy; b) doesn't endorse the homosexual agenda.

Another man told me his ELCA pastor explained that they officially no longer believe in the Virgin Birth as confessed in the Creeds. I said that must just be that pastor's abberation -- until the man sent me a link to the ELCA web site which says exactly that: "When we confess in the Apostles' Creed that Jesus was 'conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary' . . . we are not making a gynecological assertion." It was my turn to be flabbergasted when I read that. I hadn't realized the ELCA had gone that far.

The faithful in the ELCA have been fighting their own church body to retain the very basics of the faith for 20 years. For many, that is their entire adult life, and sadly that is the only "Lutheran Church" that they know, and from which they flee.

Rev. Kevin Vogts
www.holycrossdakotadunes.org

Past Elder said...

Interesting, Pastor Vogts. When I was in Catholic circles, I was taught in Historical Jesus-Christ of Faith that Jesus isn't
really" the son of God either, that that was an ancient type of honorific whereby a person was named as "son of" after what most characterised him, so Jesus is no more the son of God literally than James or John were literally begotten by thunder, and those to whom Jesus is the Son of God in one way are equally Christian with those who retain an earlier understanding of the community.

So I'll guess they'll feel right at home, if not with official teaching, with what is actually allowed to be taught.

christl242 said...

For some, the LCMS has indeed been painted as extreme fundamentalist bordering on cultish.

Pastor Vogts, when I left the ELCA in the mid-90's that's what I had heard too, that the LCMS had become "fundamentalist". Imagine my joy at finding my current congregation that still worships in the traditional manner I knew as a child.

My sister is still in an ELCA congregation and not happy at all with what has transpired. She and her husband came to Divine Service with me at my church a couple weeks ago and she is looking forward to visting again.

It is very, very sad for those ELCA Lutherans who are struggling to remain faithful to historic Christianity.


Christine

Doorman-Priest said...

Not to be at all provocative but I'm delighted by the news myself. We are set to follow.

Past Elder said...

DP -- I would take it "we" is the Lutheran Church in Great Britain, not the ELCE, is that right?

Rev. Kevin Vogts said...

I did not mean to imply that the Roman Catholic Church actually is a better option, but they are so burned out on their struggles in the only "Lutheran" Church they have ever known that they erroneously imagine it to be.

>>Imagine my joy at finding my current congregation that still worships in the traditional manner I knew as a child.

Interestingly, I have gotten this same response not only from Lutherans but Roman Catholics, Methodists, etc. One Methodist young woman said in adult instruction class, "We searched everywhere for a normal church service. YOU SHOULD LET PEOPLE KNOW that you still have real, normal church services here. All our friends are looking for just a regular church with normal services. You can't imagine how hard that is to find."

Rev. Kevin Vogts
www.holycrossdakotadunes.org

William Weedon said...

Matt,

I brought the same point up in the ALPB discussions, pointing out that we have no room for pride in this matter. We don't. To the extent we still stand, we need to "take heed, lest we fall." And for our sins we need not justification of the sin, but of the sinner, which always comes with the gift of repentance.

William Weedon said...

Pastor Vogts,

What a striking thing for the former Methodist to say!

Anonymous said...

Past Elder, the ELCE, remains a confessional Lutheran Church and is NOT trending this was whatsoever.

Andrew Smith

Rev. Kevin Vogts said...

>>What a striking thing for the former Methodist to say!

Actually, take a look at the 1964 Methodist hymnal. At St. John's College, Winfield, Kansas, we could take courses at the United Methodist Southwestern College a few blocks up the road for free. In my senior year (1982) I took "Music in the Parish Setting." The required textbook was . . . The Lutheran Hymnal. I was the only SJC student in the class, and all the Methodists complained about having to go to the SJC bookstore to buy a TLH. The professor said, "You may not like to hear it, but The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941 is the finest hymnal ever produced in the English language. I was hymn editor for the '64 Methodist hymnal, and my goal was to make it as close as possible to The Lutheran Hymnal."

If you take a look you'll see that is indeed true in many respects. So, I think it is primarily the hymns they are referring to, as versus praise songs, and just using a hymnal at all, versus projecting on a screen.

However, there is also a surprising amount of liturgical content in the 1964 Methodist hymnal, in the Anglican and therefore TLH tradition. That book was probably the liturgical zenith for American Methodists, who had something akin to their own "St. James" movement like the LCMS in those years.

Though we are a mission congregation, Holy Cross is unabashedly liturgical -- every Sunday Communion, I chant all the Liturgy including the Proper Preface and Words of Institution, etc. -- but one my elders is the son of a Methodist minister and he said coming here "reminds me of Dad doing a service when I was a child." Hopefully he's not referring to the doctrinal content! :) But, I think he does mean: We actually still use a hymnal vs. projecting everything on a screen, we use an organ, we have the traditional structure of the Liturgy which you will also essentially find on pages 9ff in the back of the 1964 Methodist hymnal, etc.

Another young man who is a former Methodist was the strongest advocate for a Communion rail in our new sanctuary (pictures at www.holycrossdakotadunes.org) saying, "It just doesn't feel like Communion not to kneel." I couldn't understand why the Roman Catholic architect so strongly resisted a Communion rail until he blurted out, "You don't want one of those. I've spent the last 15 years ripping 'em out of every church in the diocese."

The one area of our worship that those from all other denominations, even ELCA to a certain extent, find challenging is our rhythmic hymns vs. the isorhythmic versions of the same tunes which are apparently used by most of the rest of Christendom except for certain Dutch Reformed groups, i.e. "A Mighty Fortress" in LSB 656 vs. 657. To me the rythmic tunes seem so entirely natural I didn't even realize this until recently when there was a bit of an uprising in adult instruction class over this issue! There were several stripes represented, Methodist, Roman Catholic, UCC, and ELCA, and they all agreed that our hymns are "halting," "jerky," etc. I explained the history and that they would grow to love these "sturdy hymnns of old" (LSB 813:2).

Rev. Kevin Vogts
www.holycrossdakotadunes.org

kevin c said...

I am an ELCA member who at this point is planning to stay. I have nothing but the highest respect for Pastor Weedon. We have had discussions on ALPB and he has always answered my questions in a congenial way, while challenging me to think deeper and explore my faith.

The reason that many of ELCA people would not go to the LCMS is that there seems to be, right or wrong, this rivalry. You don't like us, we don't like you. That is what many people think. I have heard from both sides, "well, they don't have any respect for us, I'd never step into their church".

That is very sad. As to moving to RC, we have had many Catholic visitors at our congregation for weddings, funerals, etc. and the comment from them is always, wow, your service is almost exactly like ours, except we (Catholic) leave the last part of the Lord's Prayer off.

The other problem with moving to LCMS is that most of the ELCA people, a huge majority, that I know, want to keep our communion practices and women's ordination. And yes, the big push in the ELCA that we believe is our social activism and community outreach. And I know that LCMS does community outreach, too, but the feeling is that they do it on their own while we do it with other Christians and that is better.

I'm not saying it is, I just wanted you to get an idea from someone who is very involved in the ELCA. BTW, I opposed the decisions in Minneapolis.

I don't see a large migration from us to you, but I would recommend that you approach ELCA members like Pastor Weedon does and you will have much more respect and understanding and be able to actually teach. When anyone feels attacked, their first reaction is defensive and that usually turns off listening.

Kevin

christl242 said...

wow, your service is almost exactly like ours, except we (Catholic) leave the last part of the Lord's Prayer off.

That's no compliment to Catholics who haven't got a clue as to the Eucharistic canon in their own church.

The fact that the worship of the ELCA is so similar in the eyes of Catholics and ELCA Lutherans proves once again that the ELCA had its own "Vatican II" for Lutherans and it ain't a good thing.

It wasn't until I returned to the LCMS that I was able to sort it all out.

I couldn't understand why the Roman Catholic architect so strongly resisted a Communion rail until he blurted out, "You don't want one of those. I've spent the last 15 years ripping 'em out of every church in the diocese."

Oh by golly yes Miss Ellie! Shades of Father Richard Vosko! The man took out enough altar rails to build a yacht!

Sorry, Kevin, I saw firsthand what happened in the ELCA. It's very sad.

Christine

Doorman-Priest said...

Sorry, Kevin, I saw firsthand what happened in the ELCA. It's very sad.

Could you explain that? A lot of people saw it first hand and two thirds voted for it.

Chris said...

It seems, from everything I have read, that the ELCAers who are going to flee will not come to the LCMS but will go to the LCMC which does allow for the ordination of women as well as other anti-Scriptural, anti-historic Christianity stances. So, I wouldn't go out and extend any olive branches. THey're looking another way.

christl242 said...

Could you explain that? A lot of people saw it first hand and two thirds voted for it.

I'm not actually referring to the two thirds vote that just went down.

I was in an ELCA parish shortly after the merger of the LCA, ALC and AELC.

The positions of the ELCA on issues such as what it means to be Lutheran, women's ordination, the meaning of Scripture, life and marriage issues and the implications of the ecumenical partnerships of the ELCA changed and kept changing.

That doesn't mean that there aren't faithful Lutherans in the ELCA, there are. But the elites in Chicago aren't necessarily in tune with the folks in the pews.

Nor am I impressed by the two thirds vote. People can very well be two thirds wrong.

Christine