Saturday, August 22, 2009

Should We Leave the ELCA?

I want to begin by asking this question: Why do we have denominations? I came up with a short list which includes the following: For the sake of our identity; for the sake of our accountability and integrity; for the sake of doing ministry and mission; and finally, to provide "approved" or vetted pastors for congregations to choose from.

Perhaps there are more reasons and if so, I'm open to hear them. But now that we understand the "why" of denominations, let's look and see what the ELCA's recent decisions affect those "why" reasons.

1. For Identity. We are this and not that. Denominations are a way of how we see ourselves and understand our history. Sadly, the ELCA has never been able to provide a common Lutheran identity that applied satisfactorily to those who came out of its predecessor bodies. In other words, they were never able to galvanize a collective identity of what it meant to be an ELCA Lutheran. Lutherans have ALWAYS identified themselves as people of the Word. Our entire Reformation history is about freeing the Word and making it available to all. Now, with the passing of these new policies, our own denomination has betrayed our history. How can we who value the Bible as more than just another book possibly find our identity in this denomination?

2. For Accountability/Integrity. Denominations are supposed to maintain standards for member churches to follow. Denominations are supposed to be the guardians of “what we believe and why.” They are the ones who enforce discipline against heretics (wrong thinkers), who zealously guard the historic, orthodox Christian faith. In this case, the denomination has betrayed it’s own incorporating documents and its own historic teaching. The ELCA is not accountable to the majority of its members nor to the Word of God anymore and therefore lacks any integrity as a denomination whatsoever.

3. For Shared Ministry/Mission: Denominations, historically, have maintained that they can do mission better then individual congregations acting alone. Rather than each congregation supporting one missionary a little bit, denominations basically asserted that they could do mission better by collecting funds from member churches and then using the money in a directed way. Can we actually be a part of a ministry or mission done by a denomination with no Scriptural, historic or orthodox Christian integrity? In other words, if our own denomination doesn't adhere to Scripture, do we really want to support any ministry or mission that the denomination does because won't we possibly be propagating false faith and error? After the passage of this social statement and implementing policies, do we even believe that we share the same idea of mission or ministry with this denomination? At Zion we are currently participating in only one ELCA initiative: the Companion Synod Program that partnered us with the Mhezi Parish in Tanzania. Our contacts among the Mhezi can continue because we now have direct lines of communication and relationships with people on the ground in Tanzania. We currently lose nothing by not being a part of the ELCA mission structure. It's important to note here that bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania have gone on the record as saying that the passing of this social statement and it's ministry resolutions would cause them to break off relations with the ELCA. I wonder if this will apply to others of our more biblically conservative Lutheran partners in the Lutheran World Federation as well?

4. To Provide "Approved" Pastors: The ELCA has always tried to have a lot of control over who could be a pastor and where they could serve. Most congregations must wait up to a year to find a suitable pastor and most congregations are limited in the pool of candidates the local bishop will give them from which they can choose. That hasn't been an issue at Zion, but it is in other places who haven't felt confident enough to go outside the process. Since the ELCA has abandoned the historic, orthodox Christian faith, what kinds of pastors will it be able to supply to its churches in the future? Won’t those biblically faithful men and women considering becoming pastors decide to join a different denomination? I believe the pool of faithful pastors will dry up quickly in the ELCA which will leave Zion ultimately unable to find ELCA pastors who share our beliefs. What pastor who loves the word of God can abide a denomination which doesn't?

So we have a lot of work ahead of us. We must pray and seek the face of the Lord together but in short of repealing recent decisions, I don't see how we can proceed in the company of the ELCA. We simply don't value the same things any more.

This will be an incredibly hard parting for those of us who grew up in the ELCA and its predecessor bodies. We need to be very patient and understanding with each other. But this isn't about leaving the Lutheran Church. This is about finding our home in a Lutheran body which shares our love of Scripture and of Christ Himself. To quote an oft use phrase: In this case perhaps we have not left the denomination so much as the denomination has left us.

Thanks for reading. God bless you. PJ

For more information, please see the following links: (About the tornado) (Presiding Bishop Hansen's letter) (news releases about what was passed at the Assembly)


  1. Pastor John,

    Very thoughtful, reflective post. It's great to see your thought process unfold on these very difficult issues. I especially appreciated your thoughts on the purpose of denominations. I often find myself asking the same question, and usually come up with similar reasons as the ones you express.

    There were a couple of points I wanted to comment on...not in an attempt to dissuade you from your convictions, but to offer another perspective.

    Regarding pastoral call processes. I have experienced a much different interaction with our synod throughout the 3 call processes I've been a part of while serving at Windsor Heights Lutheran Church. Each time we entered into the search for a pastor, we were given the opportunity to interview any candidate we desired. We were told that names of prospective pastors could come from anywhere, not just the pool of pastors within the synod. We were regularly reminded that calling a pastor is the work of a congregation, and not of the synod. The efforts made by the synod on our behalf were of great value to our church as we have sought out faithful pastors to lead our congregation.

    Regarding the ways in which "the ELCA is not accountable to the majority of its members nor to the Word of God anymore". I'm not aware of any survey or poll that has articulated the collective will of ELCA members on the topic of sexuality. To my knowledge, the largest compliation of opinions on this topic was done at the Churchwide Assembly with a cross-section of 1,000+ clergy and lay people. The deliberations throughout the week were bathed in Scripture and clothed in prayer. People on all sides of the discussion sought ways to be faithful to God's Word, the history of the church, and the will of the Holy Spirit. It appears that the Assembly was accountable to Scripture, but that many who voted have accepted a different hermeneutic of how to interpret and apply Scripture in this case. Though some are saddened / angered / disappointed with the outcome of the votes, it seemed to me that the witness of these faithful people was deeply rooted in Scripture, faith, and grace (the 3 solas from the Reformation).

    Regarding mission partnerships. I have personally been blessed by ways in which God's work is being done by people who are supported by ELCA ministries. Many of these people disagree with the decisions that were made at the Assembly, but are committed to serving Christ by serving others around the world. For these people, the mission of the church is larger than social statements on sexuality. It's about feeding hungry, clothing naked, etc. I would hope that their work wouldn't be diminished or devalued because the denomination has taken a particular stance on homosexuality.

    It grieves me to know that Zion will no longer be part of the ELCA. For me, "being church" is living with one another and sharing each other's burdens. It's about lifting up the ways in which we are one in Christ and focusing less on the issues that divide us. I respect the bound conscience of you and of all that feel that the church has turned its back on God's Word. Those of us who remain in the ELCA are less of a church when those who disagree with its policies are no longer part of the conversation. Contrarian voices are essential as we all pursue God's perfect will for our church.

    My friend Brent speaks very highly of you. I love and respect him, and by extension, love and respect you as one who is called to lead and serve God's people at Zion. My prayer is for the peace of Christ to dwell in your heart and in the hearts of those whom you serve.


  2. Thanks, Erik for your feedback. I also enjoyed your Tweets during the Assembly and the interplay between you and others. I'll try to keep my response to your comments brief:

    1. The call process: You have experienced freedom in whom the congregation can call. Other Synods are radically different and I can give you a list of those who have experienced a great deal of tyrrany as bishops have used this process to "re-shape" or "re-oreint" congregations they felt were "too conservative" or "too evangelical."
    2. I did say the ELCA was not accountable to God or to the majority of it's members and the ELCA's own statistics back me up. The 2005 ELCA Task Force Report on Sexuality Statments says that only 22% of ELCA Lutheran respondents support the Study and changes. 57% were strongly oppossed. Being that this was the ELCA's own research, I would say that the ELCA proceeded to enter into this process with a reckless disregard for the will of the membership and kicked the consensus of the saints to the curb. The presiding bishops and local bishops were warned repeatedly by pastors and members of local synods that this issue, if passed, would be a cause of division. No pastor in his right mind accepts a call that is barely 2/3rds of the membership. But the ELCA proceeded anyway. I'd also like to point out that praying before you do something doesn't make it right. You can't do this kind of violence to God's word and then call it the will of the Holy Spirit. Lutheran's have always understood the Holy Spirit to work through the word and not apart from it.
    3. Zion will continue to support missionaries and mission agencies which are obedient to God's will and actually make disciples of Jesus Christ. The ELCA is ultimately irrelevant in our ability to serve people in the name of Jesus. We don't need a denomination to tell us what what people to serve or how to serve them. We don't even need them to organize us. And we can do it with way, way less overhead.
    4. Remember that Zion hasn't voted yet. We haven’t left yet, we are only discerning the will of the congregation. There is a process and it must be followed. Zion has worked very, very hard to oppose what it felt were ELCA policies that were not faithful to the word of God: CCM, the 1996 Sexuality Study, this one, we've spoken in favor of satellite churches, etc. But what I see is that in all these years, what we believed was never valued. Conversation is important, but the truth is what is of ultimate importance and when organizations or individuals will no longer be subject to the truth, then it's time to go. Jesus told his disciples to shake the dust from their feet if they were not received.

    From the many conversations I've had, I think Zion's stand is simply this: "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. In stead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." I think those days are now.

    I appreciate your candor, your respect, your engagement in the process. But I urge you to search the Scriptures for the revealed will of God.

    God bless,

  3. Thanks for taking time to respond, Pastor John.

    It sounds like you have endured some very frustrating and negative experiences in your interactions with synods, bishops, and ELCA churchwide. I am sad to hear that has been the case. As one who will remain part of this denomination, my hope is that we will strive to be a church that is more consistent, affirming, and efficient than what we've been.

    Thanks for directing me to the 2005 survey. Though the data is 4 years old, it is instructive and worth taking into account.

    Thank you for your urging me to search the Scriptures. I will continue to do so.


  4. (another Erik weighing in) As I read your reflection it sounds to me like in spirit you had left the ELCA already. What is missing from your denominational list is "bear one anothers burdens" and "be in community". Can we welcome outsiders and eat with them? Can we see their pain as our pain, their joy as our joy? Congregations do this all the time--communities of the very different (young and old, rich and poor, Jew and gentile, slave and free, male and female, gay and straight, agree with me and don't agree with me). And our congregations can be these mosaic communities because a) we love one another and b) we keep Christ at the center (these are really the same). The challenge for the ELCA now is if we can embody this on a churchwide level. It really makes us cease to be a denomination and to actually be a church-community (ala Bonhoeffer) on a "bigger than any one congregation scale". If that isn't post-denominational, I don't know what is.

  5. Pr John,

    I wish to set aside for a moment any differences that we may have on the action of #CWA09. Allow me to address your question of 'Why do we have denominations?' from the perspective of how I view the beauty of the governance of our denomination.

    I am a lay member of an ELCA congregation. Cradle Catholic, 40 years old, voting member of NWMN Synod Assembly for 11 years, voting member of #CWA03, caught almost every minute of #CWA09 plenary on the web cast and Twitter.

    I see danger in preachers who are not affiliated with a denomination. Very little keeps a dynamic preacher from confusing his will with the will of God? They are like a boat adrift, with no rudder.

    I see trouble in denominations where a tiny handful middle-aged+ males hold the key to the word of God. By way of example: Roman Catholic and LDS. It's like a boat washed up on a sandbar.

    I find great comfort in the middle ground that the ELCA has in its decision making process. If we rightly use a process of discernment, the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to take the helm and move the ship of God along a productive course.

    See you @ the CROSS,
    Randy Schatz (@rschatz56560)

  6. Is Zion - the body - the one seeking to find its way? Or is Zion - as whole - being led by few? I ask that question not cast aspersions - I have no knowledge of Zion, nor of its people or leaders. But I do know that at times, strong willed leaders can overshadow or color the will of the congregation.

    As for seeking the Scriptures for the revealed will of God, that is always the best - and only - place to start when examining a matter of Christ's will. However, scriptures have been translated, re-written, edited, changed, and altered by everyone from scholors to kings. In addition, aren't we, as a people of Christ, called to live our lives as an example of Christ? The Christ I know, worship and love was not exclusionary. Didn't Christ call anyone who loved him to spread his Word?

    Even if one accepts, which I'm not sure that I do, that homosexuality is a sin - do we not also accept that our pastors, as humans, sin in everyday life? Don't our pastors at times, lie, covet, use the Lord's name in vain, worship false idols such as money and power, fail to honor their parents? Why is it then that we accept that as humans all people sin but yet refuse to accept this one particular one? Whose "sliding scale of sin" is the one we follow?

    I am not a pastor. I am not a theologist (I'm sure I've made both points abundantly clear!) But I am a parishoner. And I am a Lutheran. I don't claim to represent the opinion of the masses. I don't claim to represent the opinion of anyone but me. But I am saddened to see the church I love being divided - and weakened - by a debate that I see as unnecessary and quite trivial really.

  7. I appreciate hearing people's thoughts on this, especially when they are calm and civil, as opposed to flippant and cruel!

    My one thought, however, is that many, if not most, of your reasons are based on the assertion that the ELCA has betrayed the whold of its scripture-focused history. I'm guessing that there are many in the ELCA who would argue that while there exist differences in the denomination as to scriptural interpretation, that the denomination is yet bound together by a common emphasis on the centrality and seriousness of scripture.

    When you wonder whether you can "actually be part of a ministry or mission done by a denomination with no Scriptural, historic, or orthodox Christian integrity," it saddens me. Does disagreement on one issue, and does disagreement on one point of scriptural interpretation thus constitute the assertion that the ELCA has rejected the whole of the Bible, or the whole of Christian history?

    Is it possible to grieve the decision while still giving credit to the other things that the ELCA is doing that are yet obvious witnesses of the gospel? Is it possible to grieve this particular decision while still giving credit to the ways that the denomination is taking scripture seriously, taking mission seriously, taking evangelism and spirituality seriously?

    I guess, for me, I would encourage you to consider you and your church's entire relationship with the ELCA, rather than letting this one issue turn into the sole reason for leaving. Perhaps the issue is symbolic of larger things for you, but I would encourage you to think more broadly about the ministry of the ELCA, and only then make decisions about its scriptural, historical, or missional integrity.

  8. I have much to say about this issue, however, another’s words summarize my thoughts the best. I am a fan of a musician named Derek Webb--obviously for his music, but probably more so for the truth that he speaks. During one of his live performances he offered the following:

    “So often we try to make it our job to make the Gospel easier for us to preach and easier for other people to hear—in order to not get into trouble and not be confrontational. But here’s the truth; you cannot preach the Gospel and not get into trouble. You just can’t do it. Hard as you may try, and you can dress it up any way you want, if you’re really preaching the Gospel you will get yourself into trouble. The cross is both beautiful and offensive—and it must be both. It is both. There is no other Gospel for you to preach. So as we seek to dress it up, or put another way, to neuter the Gospel and rob it of its great offense and therefore its great beauty, then it is no longer the Gospel that we are preaching to people. We’re not doing any favors to anyone by making the Gospel easier to hear because then it ceases to be the Gospel. It is not safe to boldly preach the Gospel. It’s not. So you might as well get to preaching it and get into trouble. This Gospel, we’re told, will literally set mother against daughter and son against father, not bringing peace but a sword. Dangerous work that we’re in as believers. Perilous work that we have before us to preach the Gospel not only to each other but to the outside world. Not safe work—safe is not a word that I believe characterizes Christians or Jesus or the Gospel. It shouldn’t, and if it is then it might not be the Gospel we’re preaching…”

    Lots to think about when you read it, right? A couple of key take-aways stick out to me.

    First, PJ, keep speaking the truth because it is His will. Although it will certainly get you into trouble with many and cause immense confrontation, you must continue to preach the Gospel. As we clearly reviewed in Romans 1 this past weekend, God’s guidance here is very clear. I think people will be quick to take this out of context and claim that our church (Zion, that is), does not welcome homosexuals. Not true. In fact I pray that many attend our church and hear the Gospel preached to them so that they might repent. Just like the rest of us who attend and need the same repentance, the same forgiveness, and the same grace. My sin is the same as another’s (mine probably worse than most), and Jesus doesn’t discriminate among them. The difference is we cannot as a church freely encourage sin. It’s just not the right decision, and it’s not a decision Jesus would have made either.

    Next, the cross is both beautiful and offensive. So my question is, if we offend people by sticking with what we know to be true, should we be concerned? No. What would be concerning to me is if we were to forget all that we know to be true and compromise our beliefs for the sake of political or social acceptance. If our church remains affiliated with the ELCA, then what message are we sending to those in our community who may be looking for a church home and more specifically, looking for Truth? Through this offense we will also experience the divide of friends, family and the church as we once knew it. But again, as Webb so beautifully puts it, the Gospel has a way of causing trouble. I believe Satan is smiling right now as we begin the discussions, because he knows that an opportunity is right in front of him. He’s been waiting for it, and I believe he is about to strike.

    Once again: “So as we seek to dress it up, or put another way, to neuter the Gospel and rob it of its great offense and therefore its great beauty, then it is no longer the Gospel that we are preaching to people. We’re not doing any favors to anyone by making the Gospel easier to hear because then it ceases to be the Gospel.”

    I’m in prayer for the church—not just my church family at Zion, but for “the church”. This could get ugly. Be strong.


  9. To Melissa;
    Thanks for your reply. If I understand you properly, you're saying, "hey, why leave for one thing? Look at the other good stuff"? Right? I get the point. However, what if the "just one thing" is the biggest thing in the world, and ultimately, the only that really matters: the gospel. This isn't a disagreement about what the Bible says. I think everyone agrees the words say what they say, namely, "don't do this." There are also lots of positive thing the Bible says that positively define proper sexual relationships. The issue here is more like this: given this is what the Bible says, we've chosen to do the exact opposite and we believe that Jesus would applaud it. That, to me, is more than a disagreement about interpretation, it's willingly, knowingly, intentionally, doing the exact opposite of what God says and then saying he's in favor of it. There are consequences to that kind of behavior. Big, bad ones. Like when Jesus says that if you lead one of these little ones to sin (by thinking evil is good and good is evil?) better for you that a millstone were tied around your neck and so on and so on.

    We profess a belief in a Savior who can heal anything, forgive anything. When we tell sick/sinful people that they need neither healing nor forgiveness, we ourselves are taking the place of God and God does not like idolatry.

    So, convince me by Scripture and I will change. But the Word of God is clear. I must obey it and if my denomination chooses to willfully disregard it, I must go.

    God bless and keep you.

  10. To the first anonymous commenter:

    Peace. You write: "The Christ I know, worship and love was not exclusionary. Didn't Christ call anyone who loved him to spread his Word?"

    Jesus wasn't exclusionary. He welcomed sinners and ate with them. But they all left changed. Jesus accepts everyone, all of us, but loves us too much to leave us as he found us.

    My contention is this: Yes, we are all sinners. But what the ELCA did was to say, "we will bless your sin." Again, my assertion is that we sinners need a doctor, Jesus CHrist, who alone can heal us, cure us. The ELCA just told a segment of our society that they were not sick nor sinners. They unsinned sin. They took the opportunity for redemption that comes from struggling with one's sins and the subsequent spiritual growth away from these folks. It's wrong! It's evil. It's totally against the minstiry of Christ in example and word.

    God bless and keep you.

  11. To Randy,
    I hear you. Yes, there is danger in "going it alone" without a denomination. But I'm not advocating that. Zion will be denominationally affiliated with another Lutheran body. We already are members of another Lutheran body, LCMC -
    My belief is that they will fulfill the four functions that the ELCA, in my opinion, defected on. Thanks for your concerns.
    God bless and keep you,

  12. To the Second Erik (aka Pubpastor),

    Thanks for your thoughts. I'm not sure about denominational responsibility to bear with. For instance, if I have an affair, I expect the denomination to remove me. I don't expect them to bear with me or, imagine if the congregation wanted to forgive me and go on, that such a thing ought to be beared with. There have to be standards. So while I appreciate the macro thought, I'm not sure how that gets played out in the micro.

    Further, I think Zion does a good job of welcoming people. We are more diverse racially and by social class than most congregations in our Synod. We love people so much we want to tell them the truth: about themselves, about God and about eternity. We believe forgiveness is found in only one name, Jesus. And we believe that he is the only one who can forgive and heal and that he wants to do so. We believe in confession, repentance, and absolution and amendment of life. I think we're on our way to living Bonhoeffer's dream. Come and see.
    Where I disagree with you is this: you can't have that kind of bearing of burdens and that kind of community without the Word being central and the ELCA just kicked the word to the curb. Without Scripture being our common language (and the ELCA just disregarded it) how will have a common language. It is not Zion or Pastor John that have broken community, it is the ELCA.

    God bless and keep you,

  13. When controversial topics arise, I'm glad to see questions, discussions, and a search for truth happen.

    PJ- I think it's great that you quoted that scripture in 2 timothy because I wrote that in my journal today in regards to the recent ELCA decision and I feel that it directly applies. I just want to say that I'm greatly encouraged to see your conviction on taking the Bible to be the inherent, infallible word of God.

    I'm grateful that you are looking at the full implications if you were to stay in the ELCA in regards to Zion's future and how that could be detrimental on a number of levels.

    Thank you for not backing down on the truth, even when it's unpopular.

  14. I support the living, breathing Word of God. Since the Word is truly living, that means it can't be outdated or antiquated. Who do we think we are to change what God has told us to do or not to do? Who are we to edit or make the Word "more comfortable" to the generations of today? I agree with the assertation that we march forward in the Word of God, the truth of Jesus.

    Obviously, we are all sinners. That's why we came and continue to come to the cross. But part of accepting salvation is repentence and growth in Christ; to die to ourselves and be reborn anew in Jesus.

    Could you imagine if Jesus would have accepted the opinion of the pharisees and changed his teachings just to get their approval?! The gospel must be preached and shared as we are commanded. Truth in love.

  15. It sounds like this topic will be discussed on Jan Mickelson's radio show tomorrow morning on WHO. Are you going to be involved in this discussion Pastor John?

  16. Wasn't in on this one. Thanks for asking.

  17. I would love to find more resources on what we can do as a church if we want to leave the ELCA but would like to remain as a Lutheran church. Do you know of specific sites I can visit? Our church is discussing this topic and it is a hot button right now. If our church doesn't leave than my family is finding a new church.

  18. Dear Anonymous of 8/27:
    David Housholder has great stuff on this. I can't find something to link to but here is a section that is of interest cut and pasted form his work for you:
    There are some good options for conservative churches and leaders looking to find healthier associations:

    1) The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
    Plusses: Bigger, broader group. Great global missions, LWR activity
    Minuses: Limitations on women in leadership; seriously crabby factions
    2) The Lighthouse Covenant (see Facebook Page)
    Plusses: More outreach-focused and not as theologically athletic, broad appeal
    Minuses: Not an actual denomination with full-service pensions, etc.
    3) LCMC (some unofficial family ties to Word Alone)
    Plusses: Full service. Thoroughly Lutheran. Done their homework.
    Minuses: Some still have an axe to grind, some factional issues
    4) ARC
    Plusses: Super young demographic, and their spirituality is winsome and warm
    Minuses: Association with old-school Charismatic movement hard for some, not hyper-Lutheran
    5) CORE
    Plusses: More confessional, “smartest” of the groups, very Lutheran
    Minuses: Same as the plusses.
    6) Additional Groups, including AFLC and AALC, etc.
    They are sprouting up all over the place. Keep an eye out for them.

  19. Pastor John,

    I am amazed at how zealous you are to use the "clobber verses" in the Bible to accuse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Christians as sinful. What about Jesus admonishment to the young lawyer to "sell everything he had and give it to the poor"? Do you tell your parishioners to take that literally and as well as practice it in your own life?

    My husband and I am lifelong Christians who go to church every Sunday. Our best friends are a gay couple who are married and have been together for 20 years. Their marriage is, quite frankly, a more godly than a great deal of the straight couples we know who are Christians.

    This gay couple I'm referring to love each other, care for each other in sickness and health, and they are leaders in our church. I really don't understand what is so sinful about that. They are firm believers in monogamy and the sanctity of marriage, and they tithe as well.

    "But what about the things they do in the bedroom?" I can hear many of you wondering. Quite frankly, my mind is pure enough that I don't think about those things. And I really don't think that Jesus cares about what they do in the bedroom, either.

    What did Jesus say about homosexuality? NOTHING.

    But he seems to have said a lot about serving the poor, didn't he?

    What does it say about many of us show have no problem casting stones at sexual minorities, but seem to be at a loss of words when it comes to addressing the greed in our own lives and lives of our neighbors?

    It's hypocrisy, pure and simple.

  20. Dear Anonymous,

    What did Jesus say about homosexuality??

    You must believe in the red letter Jesus, the one that is confined the Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

    I believe in the eternal Jesus who was in the begin, was with God and was God. The same Jesus that was with the two angels at Abraham's tent on their way to judge Sodom and Gamorah for their wickedness. (please do not tell me that men knock on doors and ask to rape people. Also, if rape was the sinned judged why did they pass on the daughters? and there actually was no rape?

    The spin that is put on scripture these days is oh so troublesome.

  21. Dear Anonymous,

    You wrote, "What did Jesus say about homosexuality? NOTHING."

    While that is technically true, Jesus did speak positively about sexual intimacy and marriage. He cited Genesis 1:24 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife. The two shall become one flesh."

    In citing this Jesus affirms and holds up the concept of marriage as ordained at the time of creation. Polygamy is not acceptable. Likewise same gendered relationships are not acceptable. There is much more to this but I hope that this will dispell the false teaching that Jesus had nothing to say about homosexuality.

    Furthermore, Jesus did not speak about a lot of things. His Apostles spoke about much that he did not touch on. They (Paul, Peter, Jude) prohibited any same-gendered sexual intimacy.

    Peace to you.

    Thank you Pastor John for your steadfast faithfulness.

  22. Lay person here, lifelong ELCA Member and trying to decide where I belong. Father Son and Holy Spirit that's what we where raised to believe God in three persons, Holy Trinity... at least in the good old ALC.

    Sure Jesus didn't specifically talk about homosexuality but God made it clear, and Paul made it clearer.

    I teach confirmation we are studying the 10 commandments, Luther's explanations for each contain the phrase "We are to Fear and Love God" Where is the the "Fear" today in the ELCA this is a concern I have more than anything we are no longer Fearing God with these policy statements and studies. I think we better get ready for a reality check from God, Our churches are going to fade away as people opt for Bible loving churches.

    We have had a guide for all matters of life and faith for over 2,000 years. God's Word the BIBLE.

  23. With regard to faithfulness to the Word of God, integrity, accountability, mission, and Lutheran identity, you are always welcome in the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.

  24. And those of us who are of color seeking a call in the ELCA - hah - good luck to us because I am being screwed over by my synod. It is hard to hear a distinguished professor (who has worked with the syod a lot) tell you that I have three things going against me: I am a convert (I was raised Muslim) - to that he said it probably offends my synod; I am a person of color would be strike two and strike three is that I am in an inter-racial marriage (now with kids!!!). Such comfort to seek a call knowing all of that in one of the top five largest synods.

  25. Dear Anonymous of 1/23/10. Would you please consider contacting me offline? Thanks. PJ

  26. All of you people who have been responding to Anonymous who said that Jesus said NOTHING about homosexuality have failed to answer his key question, which is:

    Why are you willing to split with a synod over policy regarding homosexuality, but not over policy regarding treatment of the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the foreigner in your land, and so forth? The Bible has far more to say about this, yet I've never heard of a church splitting from their denomination because they aren't doing enough to help the poor.