I've been watching the ELCA Assembly in Chicago. Tuesday morning they unveiled a Bible reading campaign called "Book of Faith: Lutherans Read the Bible". Encouraging Bible reading is a commendable task, but a lively debate ensued when one delegate proposed an amendment calling for "the distinctive Lutheran focus on God's use of Scripture to bring sinners to repentance and salvation in Christ." The proposed amendment was defeated.
Odd that a Lutheran church body would defeat an amendment exhorting a Lutheran approach to the Scriptures. The ELCA, however, has had for some time a pull in two different directions. One pull wants the church to remain Lutheran; the other pull wants the church to diversify. Back at the ELCA's 2005 Assembly in Orlando, some delegates spoke of their concerns that the Lutheran identity of the church body was eroding. Criticism of the forthcoming "Evangelical Lutheran Worship" was mentioned at that assembly as an example of a watering down of Lutheran theology in the ELCA. Some want the ELCA to become a traditional Lutheran church; it seems that the current leadership is content to make the ELCA into the image of just another American liberal protestant church. The re-election of Presiding Bishop Hanson seems to indicate that the ELCA is committed to becoming just another protestant church in America. My initial skimming of the ELW seems to confirm that move.
On the bright side, there are some committed Lutheran pastors and lay people in the ELCA who continue to pull the church body in the direction of traditional Lutheranism. This wouldn't make the ELCA into a larger version of the LCMS. I suspect such a move back to traditional Lutheranism would center the ELCA into a more moderate position. That would be a big improvement from the path the ELCA seems committed to go down at the present.