By Herbert C. Mueller Jr.
At the invitation of the Rev. Dr. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), I attended the second half of the ELCA’s 12th Churchwide Assembly, held Aug. 15-19 in Orlando, Fla. — to represent The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
I was introduced along with about 20 leaders from other church bodies, but no opportunity was given me to speak. Everyone was very cordial.
Although the membership of the ELCA is about twice the size of the LCMS, fewer voting delegates (about 1,000, compared with the 1,200-plus for our Synod conventions) make up the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The assembly debated a shrinking budget (it adopts an overall budget for two years) and reductions in funding campus and youth ministries. It adopted a social statement on genetics and the church body’s own anti-malaria campaign, separate from the Lutheran Malaria Initiative.
What gave the event a melancholy tone for me is the fact that the ELCA is on a different course than the LCMS, particularly on the authority of Scripture. In 2009 the ELCA, despite the prohibitions of God’s Word, recognized “life-long monogamous same-gender relationships” and allowed non-celibate homosexual ministers to serve as pastors. There was no sign at this assembly of any move to reconsider these actions.
This grieves us deeply, not only because of the many relationships between our church bodies, both personal and institutional — we were in fellowship for a time with The American Lutheran Church, a predecessor of the ELCA — but mainly because we believe it represents a clear rejection of the Word of God. Accepting homosexual activity as good (which is the effect of the ELCA’s action) promotes a false security about behavior God has forbidden and from which He longs to redeem us. It leads to self-justification rather than that justification God has promised all who trust His forgiving mercy through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
In response, we pray for our brothers and sisters in the ELCA, and we pray that we may both humbly seek and boldly confess Christ and His Word before the world.
The Rev. Herbert C. Mueller Jr. is first vice-president of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
Posted Aug. 25, 2011