Thursday, January 7, 2010

lutheran news digest

This is a great document that does well to equip all Christians to teach us what and why things are happening PLUS to face the battles before us. We must never kid ourselves on what we face as Satan has many weapons and he will use them in any way he can.



Be sure to read the Bible verses as you go through this. After all, the Bible is our ultimate reference and standard so we need to know and use it. Editor






Standing up for The Truth

Ephesians 6:10-18



What you and your ELCA congregation can do

15 Nov 2009

©Hosanna! Lutheran Church, St. Charles, IL



Equip The Saints

Ephesians 4:11-16

Be Grounded in God’s Word and prayer
Be Focused and not distracted
Be Diligent in the details
Be Informed and share information
Be Good Stewards of your resources
Be Surrounded with support
Be Ready for the attacks
Be Loyal to God not human creations
Be Faithful to Christ and His Calling


How Did We Get Here?



The beginning –1988

American Lutheran Church (ALC "the Norwegians"), Lutheran Church in America (LCA, "the Swedes") and Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC "the Germans", a spin out of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod) all combine to form the ELCA
Structure: ALC was flat and congregational in nature, LCA was more vertical in structure (Synods)
Guiding Principles: ALC was more mercy driven, LCA was more justice driven
Name: added an "E" to LCA
Property ownership: ALC kept theirs, LCA and AELC
Called for Common Mission" –1998

ELCA and Episcopal Church partnership to share clergy, Communion, became like LCA ministry efforts
Episcopals, like Roman Catholics, believe in the power of the office of Bishop and that Bishops are more authoritative than the Word of God
Required, in order to share clergy, that an Episcopal Bishop must lay hands upon ELCA clergy at ordination to pass on the "Holy Episcopate blessing"
Word Alone formed by some in ELCA in response
Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) formed by breakaway ELCA congregations in response
"Journey Together Faithfully" –around 2004

ELCA leadership efforts to encourage dialogue on sexuality issues begin in earnest
Special committee created by ELCA
Lutheran Coalition for Reform (CORE) created in response
Churchwide Assembly, Chicago –2007

Attempts at change fail to pass (barely)
Change efforts ratcheted up to new levels using social gospel justification
Churchwide Assembly, Minneapolis –2009
Pastor survey results publicized days before Assembly (ELCA press release 09-185-CD)
Special interest groups (Good Soil, others) "work" the Assembly like a political convention
During debate of Social Statement / Resolutions on Assembly floor, advocates of change make their case primarily using emotional and modern cultural appeals rather than justifying using scripture, tradition and reason
Social Statement vote process not consistent with prior vote processes (Social Statement passes by 1 vote)
Since Churchwide Assembly, Minneapolis –2009

Continued statements of status quo and tolerance for churches who do not agree with new ELCA theology
Nothing has changed (as per ELCA news releases including 09-189-FI, and Metro Chicago Synod representatives)
New polices, practices and definitions not in place yet (as per ELCA news releases including 09-222-JB, MCS reps)
Parishes and Church bodies worldwide express concern about adopted changes (a few examples see ELCA news releases 09-221-JB, 09-212-JB and www.lutherancore.org)
Lutheran CORE re-created, breaks away from ELCA


Be Grounded in God’s Word and prayer

Psalms 119:14-16

Practice your spiritual disciplines
Journal or blog insights you receive
Share insights with family, friends, co-workers, Congregation
Share prayer requests with family, friends, co-workers, Congregation
Make prayerful, informed, discerning decisions
Be loving and respectful of each other in the Body of Christ giving glory and honor to God



Be Focused and not distracted

Titus 1:15-16, 2:1



This is about doctrine and theology, not sexuality

Authority of Scripture seen as increasingly eroding since 1998-99
Called to Common Mission agreement with Episcopals
Some non-traditional teachings in seminaries (e..g, questioning the immaculate conception of Christ, miracles didn’t’ really happen, theories speculating that Jesus may have been gay [see textbook: "Homoeroticism in the Biblical World" by Martti Nissinen, Fortress Press, 1998, pg. 119], other examples)
Bound conscience = a new theology where:

Humans determine what sin is, not God
Take Scripture and Luther out of context in defense
Pastoral care efforts are scrutinized and diminished
... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God –Romans 3:23
Changing the Doctrine of Sin
Remember the words of Confession: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."
Changing the Doctrine of Forgiveness

If we deny our sin, we have no need of repentance of that sin and nothing to be forgiven for
Changing the Doctrine of Salvation

If we have nothing to be forgiven for, Christ died for nothing
ELCA leadership may be trying to define the scope of the discussion

In related communications, emphasis remains on sexuality and ignoring the changes in doctrine and theology
Using generalized authoritative language "this church" in statements that many in ELCA do not agree with
The ELCA leadership has many trusted channels of communication to leverage on their behalf
According to Luther’s test of legitimate Biblical interpretation and sound theology –how does the new theology of "bound conscience" measure up?

Historical Christian Church precedent
Scripture
Reason
In defense of the new theology (as stated by 2 members of the Metro Chicago Synod’s Executive Committee)

"There are no absolutes"
"Scripture defines sin, humans interpret Scripture"
By the ELCA leaders’ guidance, we should "respect differences in opinion" –but is everyone doing this?
ELCA leaders may benefit by defining the issue as only related to sexuality because new theology may be indefensible based on any widely and historically acceptable tests for legitimacy
Stay focused on the root issues of authority of Scripture, theology and doctrine!


Be Diligent in the details

Luke 8:17-18

Follow appropriate process to the letter
Know and understand your Congregation’s Constitution and Bylaws regarding:
Congregational Meetings
Leaving the ELCA
Joining a different Lutheran Church body
Property ownership
Changing / amending your governing documents
Know and understand Robert’s Rules of Order
Ask ELCA / Synod reps all your tough questions, request answers based on Scripture, Luther’s teachings, legitimate tested theology and interpretation –not based on platitudes, talking points, opinions or emotional appeals
Save emails and letters, document phone conversations and personal conversations with Synod representatives
Research and converse with Lutheran CORE, Word Alone, LCMC and other related organizations for relevant information, insights and process


Be Informed and share information

2 Corinthians 6:3-10



Understand and communicate the real, underlying issues

Eroding the authority of Scripture, the change in theology and Doctrines of Sin, Forgiveness and Salvation
Social Statement presumes these changes as it makes the case for same-gender marriage and the equivalence of hetero-and homosexual relationships (e.g. see pg. 10 of Social Statement)
In spite of ELCA leadership’s stated acceptance of differing opinions on the subject, the new agenda is moving forward using benevolence funds (see ELCA news release 09-189-FI)
Dig into Scripture’s key teachings on:

Sin –what it is and who defines it
False prophets, wrongful doctrine and errant teaching
Righteous sexuality and God-ordained marriage
Dig into Luther’s key teachings on:

10 Commandments (Large Catechism, Small Catechism)
The Lord’s Prayer (Large Catechism, Small Catechism)
Law and Gospel (Luther’s Works)
Priesthood of all believers (Luther’s Works)
Rightful interpretation of Scripture (Luther’s Works)
Congregations, Councils, staff and Pastors need to work together in a spirit of unity making sure everyone is on the same page
Form investigational Congregational task forces
Congregational information and sharing forums (these are NOT Congregational Meetings)
Research writings of prominent Lutheran theologians (WordAlone.org and LutheranCORE.org good sources)
Read and discuss The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis


Be Good Stewards of your resources

1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Some Congregational governing documents have stipulations about benevolence –know what yours are
ELCA leaders moving ahead with Social Statement Implementing Resolutions using your Congregation’s benevolence dollars
ELCA leadership says Congregations will not be forced to support any new policies or procedures, but there are no barriers or allowances made in the Implementing Resolutions to how benevolence is spent
May be no way for your Congregation to track how your general benevolence funds are being used by either your Synod leadership or by the ELCA leaders
May be able to cut out the "middle-man"

Congregations could submit contributions directly to those mission / ministry organizations you wish to support, rather than giving through the Synod or ELCA
Indicate via a cover letter exactly what purpose you wish your contributions to be used for –and the recipients must, by law, use your contribution only for that purpose
Even if your Congregation leaves the ELCA, you can still support ELCA-based mission and ministry
Research other worthy global and/or local organizations and get involved –practice what you preach.


Be Surrounded with support

Deuteronomy 1:11-13, Galatians 6:2



Partner with other like-minded congregations

Find out what others are doing
Share research, process, information of value that will help inform and build up the Body of Christ
Share prayer requests
Consult with an attorney familiar with church law, process and property issues
Include and empower key congregational leaders in research, process and communications efforts




Be Ready for the attacks

Matthew 24:24, Galatians 1:6-12, Titus 1:16 29



ELCA and Synod leaders are using many channels to promote and implement the new theology and agenda:

Augsburg Fortress, The Lutheran and Lutheran Partners
Press Releases
Pastoral letters to Rostered leaders and Congregations
Lobbying efforts to local, state and national governmental bodies in the legislative, judicial and executive branches
Ecumenical partnerships friendly to changes
Representatives of the Synods consulting with congregations
ELCA and Synod leaders are promoting "tolerance for diverse opinions" but may be seen as acting otherwise

Placing at least partial responsibility for layoffs and cutbacks on those who, in good conscience, may be redirecting their benevolence (among others, see ELCA press releases 09-236-FI, 09-241-JB and 09-257-JB)
Other actions witnessed throughout various Congregations
Is this building up the Body of Christ?
What is the ELCA’s witness to the world?

Be Loyal to God not human creations

2 Corinthians 4:2, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 John 4:1-3 32

Where does your Congregation’s loyalty lie ... with God, or with the ELCA leadership?
Take a stand one way or the other
Your Calling as leaders does not include allowing others to do study, prayers, research and discernment for you
Your Congregations should engage in discussions of theology, doctrine and Church history in order to make informed, sound decisions
These issues will not go away and will not stay hidden
Lukewarm is not an option ... meditate on Revelation 3:14-16
There may be many consequences to engaging in this dialogue

Yes, you may have contention in your Congregation
Yes, your Congregation may lose members one way or another
Yes, giving and volunteerism may decline one way or another
Yes, this may affect your relationships with ministry partners
Yes, outsiders and the media may look for ways to intrude
Yes, the ELCA and Synod leaders may attempt to directly or indirectly influence you
Yes, it may be spiritually, emotionally, physically, relationally and intellectually exhausting
But, you are not alone:

More than 40 Hispanic Congregations are considering leaving the ELCA (per Lutheran CORE Convocation address)
More than 120 African-American Congregations are considering leaving the ELCA (another Lutheran CORE Convocation address)
Some entire Synods may leave the ELCA
Prayers, words and actions of support from countless faithful Church bodies and individuals around the world
Thousands of Congregations are in the process of discernment and consideration of staying in the ELCA or leaving
"And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
We very well may be on the verge of a spiritual revival –in our own Congregations, in Lutheranism, and around the world!
Just like you Congregation leaders, ELCA leaders are responsible for their decisions
Presiding Bishop Hansen understands ELCA Congregations may leave based on these issues
Presiding Bishop Hansen announces layoffs and negative impacts on ELCA mission and ministry on 11/13/09
Shouldn’t the ELCA leadership have considered and communicated the potential consequences of change in advance?
Congregations are not responsible for the consequences –the ELCA leadership is
Many are not considering leaving the ELCA on their own accord ... "the ELCA has left itself" (keynote speech from CORE Convocation)
Respond lovingly, righteously, boldly and with prayerful discernment based on loyalty to God, His Word, His Truth and His Will
Be Faithful to Christ and His Calling

Matthew 22:35-40, Matthew 28:17-20,Ephesians 6:10-18,

Proverbs 3:5-6

Re-dedicate ourselves to the Great Commandment and Great Commission first and foremost
Each faithful ELCA member must prayerfully put on the full Armor of God
Do all you can do, submit all to the Lord, and God will do the rest
There are good seeds to be sown, grown and harvested

Faith will grow, Godly relationships will flourish, love will be shown, the Gospel of Jesus will be spread, God will be glorified
Regardless of the outcome, good shall come of this
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it." –Matthew 7:13
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.–Ephesians 4:14-16
"Your kingdom come, your will be done" –Matthew 6:10
Hosanna!’s Journey

Late August, Council creates a Task Force to study "which Lutheran Church body Hosanna! should affiliate with"
Task Force researches LCMC, Lutheran CORE and ELCA as the 3 options for affiliation
CORE removed from consideration because they are not yet a Church body eligible for sole affiliation
"Time of Sharing" gathering for members and non-members to give their impressions of the issues
Late October, Task Force Report presented to Council recommending affiliating with LCMC
4015 Nov 2009©Hosanna! Lutheran Church, St. Charles, IL
Council affirms Task Force recommendation, according to Hosanna!’s Constitution, calls Special Congregational Meeting on Nov. 8, 2009 to vote on 4 Resolutions
#1 to leave ELCA
#2 to join LCMC
#3 to retain current lay staff and Senior Pastor
#4 to Call as deployed staff Rev. Martha Nelson to serve as chaplain at ProvenaSt. Joseph’s Hospital in Elgin, IL
3 Informational Sessions allow Q&A from members to Task Force and Council
Nov. 8, all 4 Resolutions adopted by more than 2/3 required majority (1=89%, 2=90%, 3=97%, 4=96%)






Resources

www.WordAlone.org
www.LutheranCORE.org
www.LCMC.net
Hosanna! Lutheran Church, LCMC
www.HosannaChurch.com, "Who We Are –About Us" page
Phone: 630-584-6434
Email: Welcome@HosannaChurch.com
Pastor John Nelson, Rev. Martha Nelson, Rick DeVries
15 Nov 2009©Hosanna! Lutheran Church, St. Charles, IL







** I hope these reports are helpful and informative. Pass them on to all who are interested. If you hear of similar actions with church congregations, please pass them to us and others so we know what is really going on.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting posts you have, though I think Christianity is dead and will be redeemed and brought to fruition and perfection through Thelema. Check out my blog at http://christianityisdead.wordpress.com/ if you will. Love is the law, love under will. ;)

    ReplyDelete