The Bible tells us that our new identity in Christ was purchased by his death. Because he died, we are made new. New identity costs big time.
I’m contemplating the whole topic of new identity for our congregation now that we are leaving the ELCA. So far, I am very thankful to our bishop for not trying to stop us and for not putting up bureaucratic obstacles. Now that our course seems clear, such obstacles would only make the angry people in our congregation angrier and the sad people sadder. We’re healing and we’re holding together after having a lot of very difficult conversations.
It’s interesting to me that most of the churches leaving the ELCA seem to be finding their new identities in mission. In other words, having taken a stand on the word of God, they now seem more committed than every before to go out and make disciples and be salt and light. It’s exciting to see. All of these departing congregations will be forming new relationships with congregations and denominations and associations that share their scriptural worldview.
It also looks to me that the ELCA will be getting a new identity of sorts. Also termed mission, it seems as if those remaining in the ELCA will be finding new unity in having taken a stand on social justice issues like gay marriage. Now, without the rest of us to raise a ruckus, the gospel of inclusion without transformation and salvation without the cross can be preached across the denomination and the trend toward universalism can continue unabated. Now there will be no one left to point out the inconsistency in preaching the Old Testament prophet’s hatred of the oppressor without preaching the Old Testament prophet’s hatred of sexual immorality.
From what I’ve seen and heard during the last couple of weeks, it looks as if measures are underway to be sure that there is no resistance to the new unified missional identity within the ELCA. From my vantage point, it appears as if efforts are underway to silence any remaining resistance within the ELCA. I site the following:
In a recent conversation with a certified and trained interim pastor, I found out that he was prohibited from even interviewing for any vacant interim position in our Synod. The only explanation is that the Synod office doesn’t approve of his stand against the actions of the Churchwide Assembly.
This from a friend whom I trust: Two clergy reported a bishop said to a group of clergy: "I will not do this, but every ELCA official who comes after me will.
If you do not agree with the resolutions of the CWA on sexuality in August,
you will be set aside."
From a Facebook post on Nov 6:
“My godfather, a 50 year Lutheran pastor, was forced out of his church this weekend for taking a stand against the ELCA decision. He delivered a sermon regarding the gospel (little g) of acceptance replacing the Gospel (big G) of redemption. Most of the congregation agreed with the sermon, but a small number found it "intolerant", including the Sr. Pastor, and he was asked to resign...and not allowed to clarify his comments. I have a copy of the sermon...it's quite tame. Anyway, thought you'd find that interesting. He's quite hurt.”
Apparently respecting “bound consciences” does not apply to bishops or Synods, who must carry out the policies enacted at the August CWA. This from the Lutheran Core November, 2009 newsletter:
“ELCA synods will not have the option of upholding traditional Christian
teaching on marriage and homosexuality in their standards for pastors and other rostered leaders according to a draft of candidacy rules released Oct. 10 by the ELCA
churchwide organization. No synod or bishop may make decisions on ministry standards that differ from the new policies of the ELCA churchwide organization as defined by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, the policy draft explains.” See the full article and explanation at http://www.lutherancore.org/pdf/Connection-Nov-09.pdf