Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Beleagured ELCA

I'm really tired of the ELCA bashing. Someone recently said on a public forum that he was embarrassed to be a member of the ELCA. That really pissed me off. I wanted to ask why he doesn't leave. Why doesn't he leave? Because there's no where else to go. He's not going to swim the Tiber. Missouri won't have him because he supports women in ministry and doesn't believe the world was created in seven 24 hour days. So he's stuck with us. And instead of being grateful there is a church that puts up with his constant public whining and put downs, he constantly bashes the ELCA in the name of wanting to reform it. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of these people who are so angry and disgruntled that they pick on and find some sort questionable theology in EVERYTHING the ELCA does or it's leaders say. The nature of theology is such is that if you look for heresy you will find it.

And while I have some (very little) sympathy for their plight, I think there's a lot of bullshit involved and out of gratitude and loyalty to the church and in obedience to the eighth commandment, they ought to be a little more circumspect. And maybe, once in a while, even acknowledge the good that the ELCA does.

It's not that I'm uncritical of everything the ELCA does. I have some critiques. But I am reluctant now days to be open about them because they will be jumped on "AH HA! See --even you agree - the ELCA is corrupt, heterodox, stupid, no good, dying, irrelevant" No I don't think the ELCA is corrupt, heterodox, stupid, no good. It is however, possible we are irrelevant or close to it, like many mainline churches. But most of what I hear these Word Alone and Core people grousing about is not going to make us "relevant" Whatever the hell that mean. (Oooh I am annoyed --look at all the cuss words I'm using) Personally I'd like to see a little more attention payed to Phillipians 2

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves

Oh yea. And I mean applying those words to OURSELVEs - not saying "oh yea and the ELCA needs to be more like that passage"


  1. Greetings,

    I am a Pastor in Lutheran Church Canada (sister Synod to LCMS). Yes, I believe in six 24 hour days of creation but don't hold it against me :-). I read your post and I tend to agree with what you are saying. Though we likely would disagree on the content - I understand what you are saying. It can be rather counter-productive.

    However, I think all could agree that in the last 30-40 years there have been radical changes in some of the mainline churches (some within the Missouri Synod would argue we have seen our fair share as well - but not nearly as dramatic). I would suspect that some within a church body that has had such change in a relatively short period of time are experiencing a certain level of discomfort.

    I wonder what has caused him to feel embarrassment? Is it over one of the more recent changes in theology and practice? Or somethign else?

  2. In the last 30-40 years there have been radical changes in the world. I think if we didn't change we'd be in an even worse situation.

    Some of my best friends believe in a six day creation :-)

  3. Ah, and of course here is the rub... just because the world has changed does not mean the Church ought to...

    I loved your comment about your six day creation believing friends....I laughed out loud and my wife wondered what was so funny!

  4. Your post is interesting, though I don't know who you are referring to. I could probably find out easily on the web.

    Regarding bashing the ELCA, I've found it interesting to read a lot of Lutheran blogs. There seem to be more blogs from the other branches of Lutherans in the US than from ELCA members. I've seen ELCA bashing on ELCA writers' blogs only rarely. But there is plenty of ELCA bashing, some quite nasty or bitter, on those "other" Lutheran blogs. I'm not just talking about recent blogs which might reference recent pronouncements, because I was seeing this about 3-4 years ago when I first started blogging. I got some rather hurtful responses to comments that I posted. My pastor advised me to stay away from reading blogs that are less than graceful.

    I'm not sure, but perhaps those writers haven't read the passage about the log in one's eye.

  5. I'm not so sure about the changes... if you want to see change and heated dialog, look at the 1850's-1900's. That was intense, it almost seemed if one could stake a position and argue over it, one did, we even had the anti-Missourians.

    Look at what happened when Robert Jenson brought higher criticism on a large scale to Luther college 40+ yrs ago, and they lost huge numbers of faculty members. Look at Seminex 30 yrs ago and the formation of the AELC... conflict is not new.

    As far as relevancy goes... they may have a point. It appears they want to elevate the third use of the law to what I see is an extreme position. People can and do gravitate to such, ie Islam and JW, who seem to be growing quite well. Its relevancy based upon seats in use... but I dont think its so good for souls. Its just too dangerous. The pietists tried this and failed miserably over time, we best not make the same mistake.

    Joelle hits on the key though, that despite organizational difference, the change of heart towards one another begins with OURSELVES.

  6. I don't really care so much what other members say about the ELCA, what I'm tired of is ELCA members constantly whining about the just makes me wonder --if it's so awful what are you doing here?

  7. Well, the ELCA does not have the market cornered on that - those in LCC/LCMS also do a fair share of - well I won't say whining - but I will say "discussing." :-)

  8. Hi Joelle, I'm Episcopalian and we're in full communion with the ELCA, as you know.

    Oh, fine, we go into full communion and NOW you tell us the ELCA is not perfect.
    (just kidding)

    Those of us who aren't Lutheran don't really know what all the thrash is about... Why aren't "some" people happy with the ELCA? To me it looks like a great Church--everyone is so friendly to me whenever I attend an ELCA church. This is a sincere question... I guess I can telephone a few of my ELCA friends and ask them too...

    I like your blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  9. Hey thanks! I like the ELCA - we are a nice bunch. But some think we are just too darn liberal.