Sunday, August 23, 2009

Crabby Christians?

At the risk of allying myself with Christians who have, at least in our area, been perceived as crabby, I'm posting an article here from WordAlone Network president Jaynan L. Clark:
To all believers, not just Lutherans, and to all not-yet believers in Jesus Christ: Have ears to hear!

It is very important for you to hear today that Jesus died for you to save you from your sin through repentance, forgiveness and new life, which are true freedom in Him.

That is the message and the calling for the church. That is not up for a vote.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America cannot change the need for repentance and forgiveness by a vote to accept homosexual behavior as it did during its assembly this week.

Only the arrogant, the ignorant and those led astray would believe such.

Luther never wanted a church named after him. I’m doubtful he would want these actions connected to his name. The ELCA has put a stain on the fabric of all churches that carry Luther’s name.

Instead of questioning the Bible from their perspective, churches should let the Bible question them, their perspectives, experiences and actions.

Hear also, Lutherans, and all other, Christians, how important it is to distinguish the human institution from the true church of God. Lutherans from the time of the Reformation have believed that the organization exists “for good order.”

Luther’s last stand was based on the Word of God and on sound reason. He was not convinced otherwise then, we in WordAlone are not convinced now.

When God said, “I am who I am.” He meant it, not “I am who you want me to be” or “who you want to remake me to be.” God and His Word are the authority over all of faith and life.

God’s Word is not up for a vote and, remember, He always gets the last word because He alone is eternal.

The ELCA assembly has now voted against the authoritative Word of God. The assembly has swapped His Word for human words that are neither based on sound reason or good order. In fact, the assembly voted against the Word of God, sound reason and the good order of creation.

That is not only not Lutheran, it is not Christian and it is not the work of the church but of a misguided , shrinking, sideline denomination whose leadership’s ears cannot hear and can no longer even discern or recognize, let alone revere, God’s direct warning and intervention.

God will not be mocked.

Steeples fall, the cross hangs upside down, the tables are overturned and the ELCA leadership pushes forward a human agenda and dismisses God’s clear directive and the churches’ long history of teachings. So, is what was passed now to be taught to our children?

Is this what Jesus’ love that “knows no bounds” really means? So what is it the ELCA will say “no” to? Are there any boundaries? That type of faulty parenting should bring to our door the Christian equivalent of child protective services. We are leading Jesus’ children astray.

Is the ELCA saying “no” to Jesus, to the Bible, to the historical teaching of the church, to those who stand only on the Word of God and to the Confessions of the Lutheran Church but not to desires, and experiences of homosexual behavior?

This is really an old, old story . . . as old as the debate over the apple itself. As it was then, it shall always be that when humans are faced with doing either what they want to do or what God tells them to do, we “fall.” It is the same old sin—self over God and His Word.

Swapping Jesus’ story for its own will have consequences for the ELCA.

But the end of this story is the beginning of another that witnesses to the One who is eternally to be known as the Crucified One because, as we have witnessed, even this church continues pounding the spikes into His scarred hands.

As the eternally Risen One, bearing the scars of our sin, He promises not to abandon but to abide and to raise up a faithful remnant to join with the vast majority of the faithful Lutherans worldwide.

We are not Lutheran orphans, because we stand with all the other Lutheran bodies who still believe in the authority of God’s Word and with the whole Holy Christian Church.

Be changed by God’s Word. Don’t let the Word be changed.
Please hear what Pastor Jaynan says, and please don't hesitate to share your concerns of any kind. If you think we're just being too crabby, please let me know.


  1. This is probably the fifth time I sat down to try to comment on this issue. Because Pastor Steve is right that these are troubling issues and we want to make the right choice.

    First of all let me be fair about where I am coming from. I am extremely conservative. I thought George Bush was a liberal. So it will come as no shock to anyone that I believe homosexuality is not what God intended for us.

    The ELCA has made its choice. But it is not a binding decision. They left the pastoral selection up to the individual congregations. So we, at Cokato ELC are not bound by this decision.

    What do we do now? Two weeks ago I think most people had a fairly positive view of the ELCA. They do many good things and are a positive way for local churches to band together, pool their resources and spread the word of God throughout the world. They are still doing that. Go to the website and see. This week they are the evil empire.

    Don't get me wrong, I think the ELCA made huge mistake last week by turning their back on scripture and bending to political pressure.

    The argument on the other side is that of Christ's abundant love. If we truly love everyone then everyone should be included. And how can you say someone is included if they are unable to serve in all aspects of the church. There are after all, no sinless pastors or church leaders. But the idea that we accept this persons sin, without any apparent repentance because the committed relations suggests they are not going to quit, is troublesome to me.

    So ELCA is off course. If a ship goes off course, is the first reaction to run to the life boats? Or do we go to the bridge and turn the rudder? If your child steals candy from the store, do you pack his bags and kick him out. Or do you try to teach him right from wrong? I think the local pastors letter is a good first step. I would like to work through the synod to change the course back to what it should be.

    I am fully aware that may not be enough. At some point we may decide to leave the ELCA. My first loyalty is to ELC Cokato. If the decision is made to leave. So be it.

    Christs grace is larger than I can fathom. He has forgiven me and that took some doing. He had to die. I clearly do not deserve his grace. But that's the cool thing about grace, you don't have to.

    Tim Robbins

  2. Thanks so much, Tim. The big deal for me is the Social Statement on Sexuality, and only secondarily the ministry policies. I can deal with messiness in regard to leadership more than I can with muddiness in teaching. I appreciate your cool head. We need to talk and walk together. Thanks.

  3. Pastor Steve,
    I have been following this decision from afar since last Thursday from California. I have not been around town or Cokato ELC since the decision has come down, so please forgive me if I bring up some things that may have been covered at church this past Sunday.
    Much like Tim's perspective stated above, I am not liberal. In today's political climate, I would be labeled a right-wing nut job extremist (Christian, conservative, veteran, Vice Commander of the local Legion post....) I have been in the scriptures and prayer over the Social Statement on Sexuality for some time and I must say I have learned a lot and am extremely surprised at what I am about to write.
    1. Jesus was/is not in the accounting business (good thing because we would ALL be doomed!)
    2. I do not recall Jesus condemning ANYONE (please correct me if I'm wrong)
    3. I do not condone homosexuality or any sin for that matter. I do know that we must repent and turn away from our sin in order to be saved.
    4. John 6:35-37 is what I read this morning. The words "no one" and "everyone" are spoken here, without disclaimers (thank God).
    5. Cokato ELC is not under the thumb of the pontiff. We are not assigned our clergy by the Vatican or the Bishop of the Archdiocese. We have the power to deny clergy, openly, based on anything we want to (including homosexuality, gender, age.....) so I see that there is nothing to fear.
    6. The ELCA does a lot of good things world wide and to leave it based on one bad decision, well, I don't know.
    7. I do believe that it's possible for a homosexual to have ministerial gifts, just as it's possible for any person. The question I ask myself is: would I receive communion from an openly gay pastor and I believe the answer is yes. If a gay pastor isn't good enough to dish out the sacrements, what makes anyone good enough? Surely, none of us has earned the right!
    8. I'm sorry for the long post, but I have been refraining until I really knew how I felt.
    9. Last but not least: I think the social statement served it's purpose. I think it got people to finally pick up their Bibles and read it a little. To me that's all that matters.

    The only fear that I have is that somehow this social statement is somehow condoning sin. What are the requirements for the homosexual clergy? Are they to remain celebate, or monogamous (sp?). Chat later

    God is great and His grace and mercy are inconceivable to us mere humans!

    Love and prayers,
    Mike L

  4. This is a fascinating conversation. It's good to step back and breathe a little. I'm thankful for you, Mike, and for Tim. It's a pastor's dream to be reminded of God's amazing love by those who are members of the congregation. I've been talking with others too, including other pastors. I hope to work in harmony with others in our area. One thing I will say is that I've been concerned with many things in the ELCA for a long time. I've been a member of WordAlone for 10 years and find myself allied closely with many pastors who have been much more active in WordAlone and Lutheran CORE than have been. The sexuality statement is a symptom, not the cause of something much deeper in our denomination. I will, however, be patient, I will breathe, I will talk with other pastors and people and try to work in concert with others. Thanks again.