Monday, October 11, 2010

Replies to Bishop Chilstrom

Our local newspaper, the Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch, printed, one week ago, a letter from Herbert W. Chilstrom, the former presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  The letter, first published in the Mankato Free Press, was entitled "Questions for those leaving the ELCA."  You can read the letter by clicking the title - colored words in this blog are links.

One reply by Pastor Jonathan Sorum posted on the Lutheran CORE blog is "Reply to Bishop Chilstrom." I find his answer extremely helpful.

Another answer is found on the WordAlone Ministries website.  It is a pdf file with two parts (two pages): What Has Gone Wrong in the ELCA and Why We Are Leaving the ELCA.

Bishop Chilstrom's letter ignores the central issue -- that is, that the ELCA has violated its own statement of faith, which says that the Bible is the authoritative source and norm of our proclamation, faith and life.  The ELCA has stepped away from the Bible in many ways.  You can read about that in the aforementioned replies.   ***Sexuality is important.  It's the way God brings life into the world.  It's intimately connected with the Word of God.  But so much more is at stake.***  The following is from WordAlone's "Why We are Leaving the ELCA."  I have been a member of WordAlone for 10 years.
For many years, the WordAlone Network has worked to reform the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and to call it back to the Church’s biblical and confessional foundations. Our time as a reform movement in the ELCA has now ended.  We are moving forward as WordAlone Ministries, to directly support individuals and congregations in preaching, teaching and confessing the message of Christ.
For those who ask why we are making this move forward out of the ELCA, the following is a simple list based on the format of our Common Confession and expressing the concerns we have about the theological departure of the ELCA in these important matters of faith.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ
• use of the name “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” has diminished in worship materials
• biblical pronouns in reference to God have been eradicated, Scripture altered in the ELW
• Unitarianism tendency in describing a non-specific generic “god” rather than naming Jesus Christ
• the true gospel of forgiveness/repentance is replaced by a false gospel of acceptance / affirmation

2. The Gospel of Salvation
• a post-Christian form of Universalism (all are saved) is routinely preached in pulpits
• less than 200 missionaries are in ELCA, only a few with “evangelism” in their job description
• ELCA’s paradigm of mission changed to support and “accompaniment” rather than evangelism
• lack of evangelism has resulted in a 600,000 decline in baptized membership in the ELCA
• LWF and mission support dollars are used to export a false gospel to world Lutheran partners

3. The Authority of Scripture
• educational materials and social statements show lack of respect for biblical authority
• Presiding Bishop acknowledges “two equal but irreconcilable” hermeneutics (March 2005)
• methods of “higher criticism” are used as an end, rather than as a means of proclamation
• seminary education stresses psychology and systems-theory rather than biblical teaching

4. A Common Confession of Faith
• teaching materials show a lack of respect for Scripture and our historical confessions of faith
• general American Liberal Protestantism has replaced specific Lutheran doctrine and practice
• a new definition of “bound conscience” grants authority to self-invented and individual truth
• the work of the Holy Spirit is regularly detached from the Word of God (aka. “Enthusiasm”)

5. The Priesthood of All Believers
• the ELCA suffers from a rigid institutional, bureaucratic, and regulatory mindset
• there is lack of representation and accountability in assemblies of independent “voting members”
• the Lutheran understanding of ministry and ordination has been abandoned for Episcopal forms

6. Marriage and Family
• sexuality statement assigns morality and ethics to gospel (salvation) rather than law (creation)
• 2009 CWA actions change the traditional biblical teaching on marriage and homosexuality
• abortion is funded in the ELCA pension plan, contrary to the ELCA’s own social statement

7. The Mission & Ministry of the Congregation
• the ELCA has a “three expression” church structure, contrary to the Lutheran Confessions
• the top-down ELCA governing system allows for no ratification of important decisions
• congregations are routinely treated as franchises, simply “feeding” national offices
• emphasis on political advocacy diverts 5% of hunger relief funds to ELCA lobbyists

Produced by WordAlone Ministries (,
2299 Palmer Drive, Suite 220, New Brighton, MN 55112
You may not agree with much or any of the foregoing, but, unlike what Bishop Chilstrom wrote in his letter, it's not all about sex!

A link to the actual letter I sent to the Enterprise Dispatch as a reply to Bishop Chilstrom, and answers to other parts of his letter can be found at my post entitled "Questions 2 & 3".

1 comment:

  1. I set up a Google Alert the words "Lutheran" and "blog". That is how I found your blog. My Pastor prior to the 2009 CWA was also Pastor Steve. After much prayer I went to him and told him I could stay in the ELCA, but only if I had a Pastor who was not in agreement with the CWA decision. He said, "I cannot be that pastor. I believe this is a new thing that the Holy Spirit is doing." I had to leave the church I had been going to for 15 years. It was not easy but I know it was the right thing to do. Even thought Pastor Steve made me feel like I was the one in the wrong for leaving. I would like to send this blog post to him and tell him here is a Pastor Steve I am in full agreement with, but I think he has moved on and knows he and his ELCA leadership are in the right. It is very sad when human reasoning takes the place of God's Word. Blessing to you for following Christ.