Atrophy Stalled (But Not Reversed)

It seems that those in the elcA who know and believe (those are the key words) what the Bible says regarding sexual relationships have temporarily stalled the disintegration of this now-oldline denomination. The only problem is that the third recommendation of the elcA Studies on Sexuality was defeated by only a 13 vote margin. Does anyone really believe that the pro-homosexual ordination/affirmation/normalization lobby cannot get 13 votes the next time the issue comes up? [Correction: as Carl notes in the comments, this vote needed a two-thirds majority to pass–why? I don’t know–so the homosexual lobby would need 172 votes. More than 13, but certainly not unattainable in a denomination of millions.]

It is not a happy situation, but I find myself as cynical as anyone about the likelihood of stopping or reversing the deterioration of mainline Protestant denominations. However, it is incumbent upon Christians to pray for the Church in all places, however covered with dross it may be at a particular time. Pray that our orthodox brothers and sisters in the elcA may indeed prevail over those who want to distort and tear down the Biblical message and the Word of God. May God Himself preserve the Truth where it may be found, and cause that Truth to ultimately triumph, embattled though it is.

On a side-note, what place does a church body have interfering in such an explicit way with the politics of foreign governments? The relationship between Israel and Palestine has nothing whatever to do with the proclamation of the Gospel; disappointingly, that’s only par for the course with liberal (and “evangelical,” for that matter) Protestants. Terrible.

Timotheos

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7 thoughts on “Atrophy Stalled (But Not Reversed)

  1. Perhaps the ELCA is involved in issues related to Palestine because Christians, including Lutherans, are SUFFERING, and the mission of the Gospel is being IMPEDED by policies that lump guilty and innocent, Christian and Muslim, together and barricade them behind a wall.

  2. “The only problem is that the third recommendation of the elcA Studies on Sexuality was defeated by only a 13 vote margin.”

    According to the linked EL(ufauxran)CA site, the 3rd recommendation required a 2/3 majority. Thus the recommendation was defeated by a 172 vote margin (that’s 17.3% of the vote).

  3. I prefer to try to have a slightly more positive take on the vote results. Two or three years ago I wouldn’t have thought that the side of truth would have gotten even a simple majority vote, much less a two-thirds majority. The constant drumbeat to be “inclusive,” and not “judgmental,” and not “discriminatory,” that the ELCA and the media have kept up with respect to homosexuals did not seem to be strongly opposed.

    However, I think that right-thinking people may have started to understand that opposition to sinful behavior needs to be open and strong. This vote may, in fact, presage a turn toward the truth by ELCA, and hopefully, society in general.

    Jim

  4. Carl, you’re right. I was reminded of that by my father, but the power went out here, and it just came back on so I didn’t have a chance to fix that. I think the point still stands: if things do not change, the homosexual lobby will have no problem getting 172 votes. I pray that’s not the case.

    ABC,
    The resolution was not about suffering, but about political involvement. Were they voting on whether to lend support to their impoverished brothers and sisters in the Holy Land? No, they were getting involved (in the typical American Protestant way) in political affairs that have nothing to do with proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    The solutions to the problems in the Middle East are not for church bodies to decide (although, certainly, individual Christians may work for profitable solutions as they see fit).
    Here’s the problem: churches such as the elcA have decided that it is meet, right, and salutary to work for justice in various areas of social and political life (i.e., doing the government’s job); at the same time, they have neglected Jesus Christ (i.e., the Church’s “job”). The Church’s attempts to be “relevant” produce irrelevancies of the worst kind. If the Council of Nicaea had issued social proclamations about the many violent conflicts going on at the time, we would have no reason to remember that council. However, they produced an “irrelevant” creed (at least, most of it) that is spoken by millions of Christians around the world. Similarly, the resolutions of the elcA that seem oh-so-relevant will be forgotten before you can remember what e.l.c.A stands for.

    Tim

  5. In regard to the sexuality debate and it’s outcome:

    “O, God please give me three wounds; the wound of contrition and the wound of compassion and the wound of longing after God.”-Julian of norwich

    I have a different take of the results of the votes of the sexuality recommendations acted on by the CWA assembly. Many fear that we are inches away from going the way of the American Episcopal church (ECUSA), but I think that is a far cry from accurate. I talked with many of the parish pastors and lay delegates before they left for Orlando. Most reflected the opinions of the average Parish Pastor and member in the pew and were strongly opposed to ordination or blessing of same sex couples, and felt sure of the biblical case backing up those beliefs
    From day one, however, they were confronted with fellow FAITHFUL LUTHERANS who gave a very human face to this issue. The personal stories of families, friends, pastors and the palpable suffering that flowed from them was in a way expected, yet unexpected. Listening to them speak, I heard stories of pain, rejection, confusion, and broken hearts and lives were laid bare. And still it did not end. The much decried silent vigil bore constant witness to this pain in the now familiar faces during the rest of the parliamentary session and the voting. And I believe the MAJORITY of the stories came from FELLOW LUTHERANS, not from outside militant groups as was initially publicized.
    I was in touch with delegates and pastors who went to the assemble seeing this as a black and white issue, and their votes predetermined. The actual vote numbers that some are decrying as proof positive that the ELCA is inches away from full rights for gays in respect to same sex blessing and ordination, I believe were skewed because of the situation and have been misinterpreted.

    I think what came to pass was the result of sincere prayer, searching, groaning, heart breaking prayer during sleepless nights, as hearts and minds and interpretation of Scripture were searched, doubted, and searched again. They received what Julian prayed for-a wound of compassion. Confronted with such suffering and pain, many lacked the clarity of the Divine Mind of Christ and in humility erred on the side of compassion, though I am sure once away from the situation clearer minds prevailed and some votes were regretted. And I believe the numbers would be different today if the vote was retaken away from that environment. I can forgive my brothers and sisters their compassion, but hold responsible the failure of our elected Shepherds to lead in the faithful and fearless way that they promised to lead when they were elected.

    When we pray “Lead us not into temptation”, it is not only to keep us from personal vices like greed, lust, and the the more obvious sins. Many delegates temporarily gave in to the temptation of too much compassion, when a word of Law, tempered with Gospel was in order, (and there were many were able give this), but I am afraid many couldn’t, and I do not fault them for this.

    The saddest thing is that our Shepherds should never have allowed the situation to get to this point, aware of and maybe taking advantage of temptation that many fell into. And the fault needs to be laid squarely at their feet and they will be held accountable.
    The Church Wide Membership has been slow to come to life over these issues, and I may be an optimist, but I think the sleeping bear has been awakened. This was the first assemble that there was any cooperation between the many faithful non-revisionists groups (Word Alone, Solid Rock, APLB, etc.) and they are playing catch up in becoming organized, but I think they are sounding the alarm TOGETHER and this cooperation may make all the difference.

    I AM PROUD of the way our delegates conducted themselves and it was their humility and compassion and their tireless prayer that gives me hope. I do not know what I would have done in the face of all that suffering of LUTHERAN brothers and sisters, and I may have erred on the side of compassion at the time, but I think there has grown a righteous anger at the elected Leaders/Shepherds who have wrought this thing, and that will not fade with time. If it starts to, we will have Renewing Worship and the Restructuring and its fruits COMING OUR WAY to remind us “THIS MADNESS MUST STOP”.

  6. Pale,
    Thanks for your take on it. I think it is essential for the pro-homosexual ordination/union lobby that they do exactly what you say they did, and that is, play on the emotions and hearts of those who oppose what they are trying to do. It becomes much harder to stand for truth in the face of what I have no doubt is genuine pain and hurt. Sin does indeed cause pain and hurt. We will wait and see what will come from this.

    Tim

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