Hopefully, this will be my last comment on the whole ELCA thing for a while. The fallout may be just beginning, although in the first few days, I have my doubts. Witness this article in the Grand Forks Herald. Anyone who thought the laity was going to save the ELCA better look for another hero. One lady in a rural North Dakota parish had this to say:
[Edith] Anderson said she’s not open to arguments about what can be said to be right or wrong based just on Scripture.
“What the Bible is is an interpretation of people. To me, it’s not God’s word. It didn’t come out of His mouth. It’s all in how you interpret it.”
That seems to be the attitude of most of the ELCA at the moment. Who can say? So I’ll just go from my own instincts and feelings. Why even belong to a church, then? Why not just go home and meditate on the gurglings in your stomach? Of course, if you’ve been indoctrinated with “the Bible is not God’s Word” for twenty years, is such a sentiment really unexpected?
In fact, the past twenty years are really at the heart of this whole mess. When the ELCA’s predecessor bodies ordained women, they said exactly the same things as they were saying at this CWA. They were arguing based on their daughters’ experiences of being rejected when they felt “called.” They were arguing based on their emotional responses to seeming injustice and inequality. They were wielding the “gospel” against the Scriptures. They were fighting those nasty “law” proof-texts with Galatians 3:28 (apparently, the proof-text to end all proof-texts). And there are pastors and people in the ELCA who are surprised at how far their church body has fallen? They have been entering full communion with any and all takers, and sharing the Lord’s Table with anyone who believes anything about Jesus in the name of “love,” and they’re surprised that people just don’t care what the Scriptures have to say?
Frankly, they made this bed before 2005 (say, circa 1970…1950?), and now they are struggling with whether to sleep in it. Well, this is how I measure the faithfulness of those who fought this battle to the bitter end: how quickly can you pack your things and get out? (I say that, knowing that it takes some time to figure out how to get it done. God bless those who are working on it.) I’m tempted to say that I know it’s difficult, and that if my church body did the same thing, I’d struggle with leaving. But I have to say that that would be a lie. I would feel only the slightest qualms, because I have allegiance to the LCMS only as it holds to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. As soon as this church body leaves those, I leave it. (That day may, of course, come at any time.) But the LCMS has the opposite problem of the ELCA. Whereas the ELCA has officially approved heterodoxy and officially condoned what God has condemned, there are still some congregations that bravely struggle on. The LCMS, on the other hand, officially holds to the whole Scriptures and the whole Book of Concord, while there are congregations who have jettisoned both for the sake of numbers, relevance, and worship-tainment. I guarantee, as soon as the LCMS officially abandons the teachings of the Scriptures or the Confessions (ultimately, to abandon the Confessions is to abandon the Scriptures), I’m done.
The clock cannot be rewound, and some in the ELCA are awakening to that fact. Others, however, are not, and I have a hard time understanding. Perhaps a pastor will say that he (she) is staying for the sake of the people; but is that loving, or is it selfishness? Will they be left to the wolves when you are gone? (And you will be gone some day.) Is it not better to show them that their church has left them behind, along with the Scriptures, and there is no going back. I humbly suggest that there has never been a church this far gone that has drawn back from the abyss. It simply doesn’t work that way. To quote someone, “God gave them over…”
So, want to be faithful? There is only one choice: leave the ELCA. And if you want to be Lutheran, then there’s no room in Rome. Besides, Rome won’t be any better than the LCMS if you really think female clergy-type persons are good and closed Communion is evil. To quote someone else, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”