Skip to comments.The Evolution of Heresy in the American Church or How to Kill a Denomination in 5 Easy Steps
Posted on 03/13/2015 9:02:49 AM PDT by rhema
Christian theology in the American Church has seen no greater evolution than in the last 10 years. In fact, what the American Church has faced, particularly the Mainline Church, has probably been best described as a devolution or deconstruction of the faith once received. Another first, the culture has followed the American Mainline, particularly the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church (TEC) in redefining human relationship, sexuality, and marriage.
Dr. Del Jacobson, retired professor from Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, MN long ago outlined what the evolution of ideas or movements look like in Church and State. The following is what the timeline of change, or if you will the timeline of heresy, looks like.
When a small minority of people in a denomination beginning introducing innovations to Christian teachings and practice, the faithful majority reject them out of hand. They are able to point to the Bible, to the statement of faith of the denomination, and the constitution to kindly point out the errors of an innovation. In the case of the ELCA, 1997 began a long battle over whether or not non-celibate gays should be pastors. The responses of creative innovators varies widely. In the face of opposition, the LGBT lobby knew that several other foundational changes would need to happen first before they could force a change. They moved on with a multi-pronged approach that included vesting Bishops with un-checked power over congregations and church policy, connecting the ordination of non-celibate gays to the role of women in the church as well as the black civil rights movement, and creating a theological framework that would show that the change they demand is also demanded by God.
Average members of a church may not know that there is a problem on the horizon, but clergy and church workers most certainly do. Even among the clergy, though, youll find a division between those who see the serious threat to Christianity the proposed innovation poses. One group is composed of those who cant possibly imagine it would ever happen in this church who are viewed as undecided. Then there are the two main factions of those who support the changes and those who do not. As positions are staked out throughout the denomination, polarization begins to occur. Both sides of the issue begin to engage the task of convincing the undecided or the clergy sitting on the sidelines to pick a side. This is typically a period of time where the resistance flourishes. No changes are being made, but it takes a tremendous amount of effort for those that hold to a historical and biblical view to hold the line. Typically, for example, gay clergy dont really have jobs or pulpits in the church and have much more time to organize their agenda than the clergy who are working 50 hours a week to shepherd a church. Every theological becomes a flashpoint and opportunity for pushing forward the LGBT agenda. Even discussions that have nothing to with it are framed and used to give support to biblical innovation. The resistance typically represents the vast majority of the denomination, but because their task to educate the undecided clergy of all the issues is so large, they begin to become the loudest voice, especially to people who have no idea anything is going on that warrants concern.
As the discussion about the proposed heresy drags on, everybody gets weary. Depending on the allies the innovators have gathered, they are able to legitimize their claims by leaning on a tearful cry for social justice and tolerance. To the extent that they can argue from an emotional position of an oppressed minority, they are able to frame the resistance as the real trouble makers. People who are undecided begin to pick sides, and usually the growth of the so-called intolerant resistance begins to slow as people begin looking for a way to end the conflict with a why cant we all get along mentality. The growth in supporters of the innovation begins to quickly grow in favor of unity and harmony. Some clergy, in particular those who see the denomination as the family business and want to ensure their pensions and make a name for themselves will oppose the resistance in the name of unity and cast themselves as diplomatic churchmen, putting their self-interests above the Gospel. In the case of the ELCA, bishop Mark Hanson called for a national study and conversation about homosexual behavior. This in effect gave the time needed to create an environment of acceptance for the false teaching.
The resistance begins to accept what becomes the inevitable in theological drift and re-cast their mission and discussions in the hopes of recovering the credibility that was lost in being smeared as the trouble makers. They make the shift from watchmen on the walls to a church renewal vision, realizing that the denomination is in trouble because the average pastor and pew-sitter doesnt know the Bible. Having functionally capitulated, they hold out hope that through renewal they could someday reclaim the historic Christian faith for their denomination. Pastors and congregations that havent already left the denomination begin to head for the doors in defeat. The clergy who sat on the sidelines begin to rationalize that the changes wont really affect them or their congregations. The innovators begin to signal their all but certain victory by casting themselves as leaders of reconciliation and good will, though theyve played dirty from the start. In the case of the ELCA, a decision to accept non-celibate gay clergy was accepted at their 2009 church-wide assembly with a 66.6% vote. At the very moment the vote was being taken a tornado tore the steeple off of Central Lutheran Church, which is often described as the Cathedral of the ELCA.
Promotion of a heresy doesnt begin right away. Denominations discover that innovations cause bitter division. People vote with their wallets and with their feet. Hundreds of congregations begin to leave the denomination and these are usually the healthiest and largest congregations of the denomination. Budgetary issues assail the denomination. For example, the ELCAs budget when it was established in the early 1980s was 70 million dollars. By 2010 the general funds had dropped to 45 million. Many of the gay pastors realized that they pushed out the most talented and brightest pastors, as well as their most generous givers. The people they depended on to do the heavy work of the denomination, and to do the best preaching and teaching, begin to disengage. As this storm gathers and swirls, the theological innovators bear the brunt of the blame and those who sat on the sidelines finally realize that it does have a major impact on the church. All of these people keep their heads down and keep quiet. If it were any other dialogue they would have moved quickly to the next cause celebre, but now realize that the majority of the church that is left- even their supporters- blame them for the devastation that is left behind. This quiet eventually gives way to picking up the pieces as best they can, but the disaster isnt over. The denomination now has to live into their decisions. Some leaders emerge who will press to implement the changes in every way they can and every place they can out of the deep desire to justify the change and to show that it is a good thing. They have to put lipstick on a pig, and hope against reality that the promised benefits of the change will come to fruition. The most common promise is that the change will grow the church, bringing droves of new people to hear the gospel. This is never true, but the denomination promotes the changes as the best thing since sliced bread, in effect bringing attention to the fact that the bishops and their pastors have no clothes. A protracted period of decline begins as non-celibate gay clergy take on pulpits across the country and displace church members who one time thought it would never happen in their congregation. The change is celebrated and promoted as a new movement of the Holy Spirit in the church, and severe decline is ensured.
” ...the ELCAs budget when it was established in the early 1980s was 70 million dollars. By 2010 the general funds had dropped to 45 million. . .”
Was this in inflation-adjusted dollars, or nominal dollars?
SPOT ON. This writer articulates well what I have been thinking the past few years.
Dr. Del Jacobson, retired professor from Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, MN long ago outlined what the evolution of ideas or movements look like in Church and State. The following is what the timeline of change, or if you will the timeline of heresy, looks like....
....When a small minority of people in a denomination beginning introducing innovations to Christian teachings and practice, the faithful majority reject them out of hand. They are able to point to the Bible, to the statement of faith of the denomination, and the constitution to kindly point out the errors of an innovation....
And that's why it's vital that all Christians should read and be conversant with the entire Bible, and should insist on church doctrinal statements that are specific and longer than a handful of sentences. I can count on one hand the number of Christians that I know personally, who have even read the Bible cover-to-cover for themselves.
The Great Apostasy WILL result in entire denominations dying, and other groups splitting multiple times, as the wheat is separated from the chaff. It’s a spiritually healthy process.
That is, the problem in not that of the churches being in the world to transform it, but the world in the churches to transform them.
The only solution is for courageous disciples of Christ to meet with Him "outside the camp," outside the mainstay groups of Christendom and its churchianity, shunning denominationalism, and clinging to Jesus.
This get the gay camel’s nose into the tent and then take over the tent strategy is used by other pro gay churches. We have seen it used in the Methodist Church, which has destroyed the churches or seriously weaken them.
My wife grew up as a Methodist in a small midwest town. Her grandparents and many other relatives were the backbone of the church.
The slow destruction of that church began about 20 years ago. Their Bishop sent a female pastor to start the change. She never came out as a lesbian, but she set up gaydars where ever she went and whenever she opened her mouth. She started the Exodus of members. Interestingly, it was the younger members in their 30’ and 40’s, the worker bees and future elders of the church who left with their young family members. When they complained to the Bishop, he told them they had to deal with his choices.. They just left. That pastor did keep the connections with the older members of the church. Most of the older members stayed until the next gay pastor invasions.
After that pastor left, hostile open gay pastors came to the church. They had zero tolerance with the older members as well as the younger members, who resisted the changes, they imposed on the church. So young and now older members left.
The straw that broke the camel’s back for my MIL was the assignment of two lesbians to be co pastors of her small church with less members each month. Of course the pastors didn’t share one salary, they had two full salaries based on the minimum starting salary for new Methodist Pastors plus some very expensive health/dental insurance. Again that bishop, a different one told them they had no choice and had to come up with the money to pay for two pastors.
My MIL complained to the current Bishop, that the dual expense of two pastors would destroy her life long church with vanishing and dying members. She was in failing health and never saw one of the two lesbian pastors in a home visit,even before she challenged what was being done to her church. Her complaints were ignored and the money ran out.
The church yoked with another denomination to stay open. For two years a pastor from the other denomination would be the pastor and services were held in the former Methodist Church. When the other pastor was there, the population stayed basically constant.
She stopped going to church and died a couple of years later. By then, church was still barely open with only one part time pastor. My MIL in her will, requested that her final service not be held in that church and be held in the funeral home. She requested that a pastor from another church deliver her eulogy. He visited her in her final years, even though she wasn’t a member of his church.
There was standing room only at her funeral service. She was a wonderful woman. The reception was held in her old church. Many of her surviving friends, and those who knew her, apologized for how she was ignored by her church in her final days.
I told each of them, that the church would be closed in a year. 6 months later it was closed.
Makes sense. Thats an intriguing take.
Mainline Unitarians. It reaches a point that well, why do they even bother?
1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
It seems so straight forward to those who actually read scripture.
You do know, don’t you, that if you cross a Unitarian with a Jehovah’s witness that you end up with someone who knocks on your door for no apparent reason?
But will be very nice but insistent about it.
Especially since both Jesus and St. Paul said homosexuals and others practicing sexual immorality will not enter Heaven.
The last Christian Episcopal church here closed several years ago. The last rector, who was a believing Christian, retired. The bishop then sent a letter to the congregation, saying that unless they were willing to sign an affirmation as to the correctness of the present beliefs of the Episcopal Church regarding homosexuality and other things, he wasn’t going to bother looking for a new rector or give them a supply priest.
The entire congregation then just physically walked out the doors after service one Sunday and left the church there open with everything in it. I assume someone gave a phone call to the bishop saying he could have back the empty building. Several hundred people gone at once. Most moved to the still orthodox LCMS church down the street, but a number moved to our church.
The church remained empty for a couple of years. Then one day I noticed a banner out front. The church building has now been rented to a Bible-believing non-denominational church. Ironic.
Almost half of the churches in the diocese now don’t have rectors. The pattern has pretty much been uniform. Bring in a woman rector who is virtually always a lesbian or middle-aged divorcee, the church empties out, the woman priest quits or gets reassigned to destroy another parish, and that’s it.
I think the saddest episode here involved the liberal Disciples of Christ. They made a point early of only hiring homosexuals for their pastor. Unfortunately, one day the pastor and his boyfriend had a spat about something and the boyfriend came back and set the church on fire. The pastor was finally fired by the congregation (and replaced by a transgender), but half of the church was burned out.
Jesus made it clear:
“Pay attention! I am coming soon, and my rewards are with me to give to each person according to what he has done. I am the ‘A’ and the ‘Z,’ the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
How blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they have the right to eat from the Tree of Life and go through the gates into the city!
Outside are the homosexuals, those involved with the occult and with drugs, the sexually immoral, murderers, idol-worshippers, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
1. Install unqualified elders.
Yet there are so called "churches" who put them in leadership positions. Go figure.
Interesting story. ‘The last Christian Episcopal church here closed several years ago. The last rector, who was a believing Christian, retired. The bishop then sent a letter to the congregation, saying that unless they were willing to sign an affirmation as to the correctness of the present beliefs of the Episcopal Church regarding homosexuality and other things, he wasn’t going to bother looking for a new rector or give them a supply priest.’
Out here in California and back on the East coast, there have been several battles between church members refusing to go along with liberal Bishops and the gay issue. The Bishops claim they and their diocese own the churches and the members claim otherwise. Courts have gone both ways.
We still get to pick our priests via a search committee. Decades ago, a bishop tried jam a new priest down our throat. That priest was not gay, he was just the bishop’s pick. The Bishop was told to back off or he would lose the most financially viable church in his Diocese. He backed off and retired shortly after that.
Its very distressing to me, that denominations and individual churches are being split and damaged by being compelled to deal with homosexuality.
Homosexuality is sinful behavior. Yet, churches are being torn apart if they aren’t liberal on homosexuality. All the good works and benefits of these churches is being cast aside, if they don’t bend over backwards to prove they accept homosexuality.
I never thought I would see the day when churches are being compelled to affirm sinful sexual behavior in this manner.