Sunday, March 29, 2009

We’re praying for Fargo

Our youngest associate pastor, Eric Waters, announced at Thursday night Bible Study that he’d appreciate our prayers for Fargo, where he formerly was the pastor of the First Lutheran church. He and his wife just had their 5th child, Jonathon, so he was a bit sleep deprived, but smiling. According to the AP report, the people of Fargo went to church today and then went back to creating sandbags for dikes.
    Weary residents of this sandbagged city came together in churches Sunday, counting their blessings that the Red River finally stopped rising and praying the levees would hold back its wrath. A brief levee break that swamped a school provided a warning of the kind of threat that still hangs over them in the days ahead.

    Church services that are a staple of life on Sunday mornings in Fargo took on greater significance as people gathered after a week of round-the clock sandbagging. They sang hymns and held hands, asking together for divine help in avoiding disaster.
"Pastor Eric Waters was born and raised in Syracuse, New York. After coming to faith at Dartmouth College, he attended Yale Divinity School and graduated in 1999. Waters has served parishes in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, and Fargo, North Dakota, and is currently Associate Pastor at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church in Columbus, Ohio. He received his Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Preaching from Luther Seminary in 2008." from

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lutherans baffled by God's plans for sex?

I've read through the press release of the Task Force and am clueless. But if this is any evidence, it's time for all believing Lutheran churches to leave ELCA when approving gay sex becomes a matter of loving and respecting your neighbor as God commands. We don't get to vote on the sanctity, purpose or mission of marriage--that was settled a few thousands years ago.

ELCA NEWS SERVICE, March 20, 2009

Lutheran Theologians Respond to ELCA Task Force Documents 09-069-MRC

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Three theologians of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) responded unfavorably to content in two documents released by the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality.

The task force released Feb. 19 a proposed social statement on human sexuality and a report recommending a process to consider changes to ministry policies that could make it possible for Lutherans in committed same-gender relationships to serve as
ELCA associates in ministry, deaconesses, diaconal ministers and ordained ministers. Recommendations for both documents will be considered at the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the church's chief legislative body, Aug. 17-23 in Minneapolis.

According to the Rev. Carl E. Braaten, the ELCA is at a crossroads. Braaten, Sun City West, Ariz., is co-founder and director of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. He's also professor emeritus of systematic theology, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, one of eight ELCA seminaries.

The social statement "professes not to know the difference between right and wrong on crucial matters of human sexuality," he said. The task force has made "a proposal to the church that takes one side of a controversial issue on which it does not expect that a consensus will emerge soon or ever."

If the ELCA assembly is to adopt the social statement and approve the task force's recommendation, Braaten said, "That would constitute a radical departure from the overwhelming consensus that has prevailed in historic Christianity through 20 centuries." He said many pastors and congregations will choose not to leave the ELCA but "remain and protest as a confessing movement."

According to Dr. Robert D. Benne, the social statement avoids making "normative judgments about homosexual conduct by neglecting the testimony of the Bible and the Christian moral tradition on that issue." Benne is professor emeritus and director of the Center for Religion and Society, Roanoke College, Salem, Va. Roanoke is one of 28 colleges and universities of the ELCA.

"I believe it is incontestable that the Scriptures and the moral teaching of the Christian church throughout the ages -- and presently that of the ecumenical church -- proscribe homosexual relations of any sort," Benne said.

"I am not satisfied with appeals to sincerity and tolerance, especially since I think Christian teaching is clear. And I am certainly not satisfied with those appeals when the recommendations of the task force lead to no teachings at all on the subject, but yet lead to sharp changes in practice," he said.

"There definitely is a sense in which we can live with our differences when it comes to public policy," Benne said. "But the sexuality issues under discussion have to do with the teaching and practice of the church. They strike much closer to the core of Christian life and teaching -- what does it mean to love the neighbor in sexual matters?"

The Rev. Paul R. Hinlicky, Roanoke's Tice Professor in Lutheran Studies, said he's contemplating a "divorce." "Not from my wife of 35 years, but from my denomination." He wrote for The Lutheran Forum that the ELCA "has come up with a different plan for a new future," putting "our covenant itself to a vote in

"The historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions have recognized marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman," said Hinlicky. But they appear in the proposed social statement "as memories of the way we used to be." He noted that some in the larger Christian community conclude that marriage is "also the appropriate term to use in describing similar benefits, protection, and support same-gender couples entering into lifelong monogamous relationships."

"The real voice of the people of God across the world and through the ages seems to matter not at all," said Hinlicky, "any more than Holy Scripture as parsed by the Lutheran Confessions. Surely, this church's congregations, if given an honest and secret ballot would overwhelmingly reject the manipulation of language and meaning involved in calling marriage anything other than that relation in Scripture and Confession."
- - -

The task force's report and recommendation on ministry policies and social statement are available at on the ELCA Web site.

Robert Benne's comments are available at

Carl Braaten's comments are at
    My criticisms included the following assertions:
    1) it confused law and gospel;
    2) it reversed the order of creation and redemption;
    3) it wrongly represented Lutheran ethics of sex as deriving from Christology and the doctrine of justification;
    4) it was antinomian;
    5) it did not deal with the Law of God and the Ten Commandments;
    6) it did not exegete the biblical passages that deal with sexuality, and in particular homosexuality;
    7) it avoided the use of the proper name of the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
    8) it drew only upon Lutheran sources, displaying a sectarian attitude that ignores the teachings of the Great Tradition;
    9) it disregarded the Lutheran view of homosexual acts as sinful.
    10) I ended my critique by saying that the social statement of the Task Force is “not only deeply flawed from a Lutheran theological perspective, it is also so poorly written that I believe there is very little in it to salvage.”
Paul Hinlicky's comments are at
on the Internet.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or
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