"Have you not asked those who travel the roads, and do you not accept their testimony?" (Job 28:29)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Shake It Up or Shake It Off?

IN A recent move, the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has voted to place certain redemption language on the shelf whenever they are communicating in the wider religious world. The Synod has approved a resolution for national discussion of this tact, to be presented and voted on at this year's nationwide ELCA assembly. This move offers the ecumenical thrust that when working with persons of the Jewish and Muslim faith expressions, the bringing others to the person of Jesus Christ shall not be mentioned. This stance is to be held in spite the clear biblical mandate from Jesus to preach, teach and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Obviously, this action now approved by the New England Synod, soft-pedals our faith and places the already apostate ELCA farther out of historic and traditional Christian heritage, and moves them closer toward cultivating a rampant religious universalism.

Here below is the text of the motion placed and approved ( I have noted in bold typeface the text that is in my opinion, the most contentious )

Resolution for New England Synod Assembly
 June 2017

Whereas the evangelical mandate of Christ to his apostles in Matthew 28:18-20 calls us to make
his teaching and presence known throughout this earth's nations
1; and  

Whereas the discipleship and gospel entailed in that Great Commission is obscured and diminished if the dissemination of its witness is thought of as exclusively intended for or achieved in the conversion of others to Christianity; and… 

Whereas Christian discipleship and witness bids us reach out with a love that not only gives account of our faith but also genuinely values and respects our neighbors; and…

Whereas the current wording of the ELCA Constitution in C4.02b and its parallels in the model
synod and congregation constitutions ("reaching out to all people to bring them to faith in
Christ") can too easily be heard to narrow the definition and motivation of our outreach and stand as a contradiction of the good faith of witness; and…

 Whereas the ELCA has declared itself "committed to fostering unity among the children of God for the sake of the world;” 2 and, 

Whereas in the Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community (adopted by the ELCA Church Council, April 18, 1994) we officially expressed "our urgent desire to live out our faith in Jesus Christ with love and respect for the Jewish people” and offered “prayer for the continued blessing of the Blessed One upon the increasing cooperation and understanding between Lutheran Christians and the Jewish community;” and, 

Whereas in the ELCA’s Guidelines for Lutheran-Jewish Relations we affirm that “encounter with living and faithful Judaism can be profoundly enriching for Christian self-understanding;” and..,

Whereas in the ELCA’s Guidelines for Christian-Muslim Relations we affirm that “the Gospel of
Jesus Christ calls Christians to mutual understanding and friendship with Muslim people in the
United States and around the world. By learning about Islam and seeking opportunities to know
Muslim people better, we bear witness to God’s saving love incarnate in Jesus;” and

 Whereas “the Scriptures have no single teaching about the relationship between the people of the
covenant and those who practice other religions;” 3 and

 Whereas "reaching out to all people to bring them to faith in Christ" goes beyond the previous C4.01 which states that "The Church is a people created by God in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, called and sent to bear witness to God’s creative, redeeming, and sanctifying activity.

1 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

3 Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves: A Lutheran Calling in a Multi-Religious World
in the world," we are called and sent to bear witness, not to "bring" which is the work of the Holy Spirit; and,

 Whereas Martin Luther teaches in the Small Catechism that we believe that we cannot by our own “understanding or strength believe in Jesus Christ our Lord or come to him, but that the Holy Spirit calls us through the Gospel;” and,

 Whereas Martin Luther’s theology of the cross calls into question all human efforts to speak with certitude about the pathways of God; and

 Whereas in the light of the growing positive and rich multi-faith engagement of the 21st century, we have come to a new humility about the question of God’s relation to other religions:

Be it resolved that the New England Synod memorialize the ELCA Churchwide Assembly to initiate a process to amend the phrase “bring all people to faith in Christ” in C4.02b and its constitutional parallels in order to achieve greater consonance with both our understanding of Christian witness and sensitivity to our interfaith contexts. And,

Be it further resolved that the resources of the ELCA enlist and consult its teaching theologians,
Bishops, and other leaders in the drafting of such an amendment for consideration at its
subsequent CWA.

Submitted by: Pr. Ross Goodman Pr. Donald Larsen Pr. John Stendahl

+ + +

 As an ordained clergy of the North American Lutheran Church, who formerly served in ELCA congregations, I find this memorial offering to be part of the demonic, liberal and progressive slide that has infected the ELCA for several decades. We as the Church are not just called to rightly proclaim God's Word, but to baptize and teach. Therefore I ask, "Is it loving to cease evangelical declaration that leads to baptism, so that persons tend to continue in their scattered, lost and condemned state? Is it right to allow them to remain in jeopardy, without providing a road map to salvation?"
 To offer others less than the Truth in ecumenical dialog is to shelf the exclusive righteousness of Jesus Christ and his deeds upon the cross for our salvation.  As well, to reduce the Holy Spirit's work as a category that can only occur after Christian witness is an absurdity and folly. The Spirit of God works as it wills. We cannot put Jesus our Lord on a shelf, only to call him down when convenient; and we cannot restrict his Spirit. We have been told by scripture that the Spirit will work for and with us through the Word and the Sacraments, but we cannot put the breath of God on a leash. I say to you that by grace, we of the Church were called by God through Christ Jesus... to witness in the world and work diligently in the Spirit to convert persons into the Christian faith. 

1 comment:

M. Henry Pawluyk said...

The NES is so politically correct that it is almost apostate and willing to abandon the Gospel for the sake of being sensitive.