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Monday, August 13, 2007

Which Way for American Lutheranism?

The two largest Lutheran church bodies in America held conventions this summer. Some groups try to move the LCMS "left" and others try to move the ELCA "right". Left and right don't work in the Church, not at all. What really counts in the Church is not "left" or "right", "liberal" or "conservative", but Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Are we grounded on the sola Scriptura (the word alone)? Are we being faithful to the Confessions which are grounded solidly upon the holy Scriptures? One determines the healthiness of American Lutheranism by how Scriptural and Confessional the individual synod or church is.

The Missouri Synod boldly proclaims that she is grounded upon the Word and the Confessions. By and large, this is true. There are some paths the Synod is taking that might need further Scriptural and Confessional guidance (the alternate paths to pastoral ministry, for one; worship questions are another). We claim to be grounded upon Scripture and the Confessions. Good. Don't forget this. Don't take it forgranted. Keep being grounded on Scripture and the Confessions. I don't want to see the Synod become a copy of the ELCA in another twenty years or so. We have a plethora of ambiguous protestant churches in America. We need to remain a solidily Lutheran synod standing upon Scripture and the Confessions, which is grounded upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets which has Christ Jesus as its cornerstone.

The ELCA makes the same claim to be Scriptural and Confessional. Yet, looking at her past assemblies (especially 2005 and 2007) and that clearly isn't the case. Hermeneutical ambiguity runs roughshod over hermeneutical clarity. In 2009 the ELCA has a supernova-temperature hot potato on her plate when the task force on human sexuality reports to the assembly its recommendations to decide all those devisive social and sexuality issues facing our brothers and sisters in the faith. The presiding bishop of the ELCA has spent two decades trying to make the ELCA more inclusive. Others have resisited. Most notably, Word Alone and Lutheran Core have undertaken to pull the ELCA back to Scriptural and Confessional Lutheranism.

Which way will the ELCA go? How will the LCMS respond? We've got two years to pray and encourage for Scripture and the Confessions to determine the way for American Lutheranism.

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