I received yesterday via email President Kieschnick's LCMS response to the ELCA re. their final day of voting at the assembly. Kieschnick, by the way, spoke earlier that day, bringing official greetings from the LCMS to the ELCA. I didn't hear every representative that week who brought greetings to the assembly, but Kieschnick's was the most Christ-centered of all I heard, and definitely the best and most relevant greeting that week. He urged the assembly to prayerfully and Biblically consider their votes because they will effect their relationship with the LCMS.
Kieschnick's email highlighted a resolution from our 2001 convention acknowledging our brothers and sisters in the ELCA who remain faithful to the Gospel. There was another Resolved that he didn't quote. I'll provide the first two, pertinent resolves of Resolution 3-21A (2001):
Resolved, That the 2001 synodical convention affrim the late President Alvin L. Barry's judgment that "we cannot consider them [the ELCA] to be an orthodox Lutheran church body"; and therefore be it further
Resolved, That we of the LCMS recognize that many of our brothers and sisters of the ELCA remain faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and we resolve to reach out to them in love and support.
I also noted that in our 2001 and 2004 conventions we had resolutions that dealt with many of the issues the ELCA has sent off to a task force. In 2009 that task force reports back to the assembly and there can be no more stalling. Decisions will have to be made.
It's evident what path the ELCA is treading. Since her formation in 1988, the presiding bishops (Chilstrom, Anderson, and Hanson) have taken them down this path. Let's make no mistake here: Chilstrom, Anderson, and Hanson want the ELCA to vote a certain way in 2009, and if they get that vote the ELCA will be at that position because the leadership of the that church lead the churches that way. After the 2005 Assembly, Dr. James Nestigen (Professor Emeritus of Church History at the ELCA's Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN) said that the ELCA has court theologians who ask the leadership what position they want to take and they will then write theological papers supporting that position. Sounds like their task force on sexuality might be made up of court theologians.
Thankfully, President Kieschnick is right: there are pastors, laity, and churches faithful to Scripture and the Confessions. Many seem to have focused their energies in WordAlone and Lutheran Core, the two recognizable leaders of Lutheran Reformation in the ELCA. May they call the ELCA to account, repent, and a return to faithful Lutheranism.