Skip to comments.Liberal Lutherans Doubling Down
Posted on 07/30/2018 9:00:28 AM PDT by NRx
Over the last reporting decade the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has lost more than 1 million members or 25% of membership, now down to 3.5 million, from 4.7 million ten years ago. At this rate of decline the denomination wont exist in 30 years or so.
Newly elected ELCA bishops might be expected to address this existential crisis with fresh eyes and energy. But a recent Religion Service News interview, capably conducted by Emily McFarlan Miller, with six new women bishops shows no such interest. Instead, they seem determined to double down on the heterodox theology and political activism that have been so destructive for the ELCA and other Mainline Protestant denominations.
Theres almost no reference to the ELCAs decline in the bishops interview. Perhaps the closest came from Bishop Patricia Davenport of Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod who asked without really answering the question: How do we move from the mentality of the church is declining, the church is declining, to building up the kingdom of God?
Bishop Laurie Skow-Anderson of the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin noted that many churches are effectively museums, theaters or political action committees, which are not the churchs purpose. The real problem is that they think they are a social club, and they get together to be with their friends on Sunday morning and to drink coffee. They dont know how to be the church in the world on Monday. But she didnt really explain here what being real church entails.
Several bishops cited immigration as an advocacy issue. And Bishop Deborah Hutterer of the Grand Canyon Synod asked: How do we reach out to our Mexican brothers and sisters and those from Guatemala? The Hispanic population will add a richness to the church that we havent quite tapped yet.
Very true, but the ELCA like all Mainline denominations is more than 90% white. Liberal Protestantism, unlike Pentecostalism, doesnt work with Hispanics or other immigrant groups. So how can the ELCA reach them? Wont the ELCA have to change its message? None of the bishops indicated so.
Instead, Bishop Susan Briner of Southwestern Texas Synod declared: Because Im telling you what, the Spirit is up to something
And the other bishops responded: Amen. Yes, she is.
And Briner said: if we would just let her out.
The bishops then responded: Let her out. Get out of her way.
Then Briner said: Open the doors and let her out.
And her fellow bishops concluded: Shes out! She is loose!
Presumably the bishops were referring to the Holy Spirit, whom Scripture and the universal church call He. Alternative pronouns are usually confined to some quarters of Western liberal Protestantism and associated with 1990s-era feminist theology, not classical orthodoxy. So are these new bishops rejecting or minimizing orthodoxy in favor of more liberal Protestantism?
Comments about the ELCAs political activism confirm the latter. Religion News Service asked the bishops about the rise of the religious left, of which the ELCA would be considered part, and whether members felt energized.
Bishop Davenport responded: Im not going to say its a resurgence for me. Im going to say its a continuation.
Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld of Southwestern Wisconsin Synod added: That has been where the Lutheran Church has been, particularly this branch of Lutheranism and its predecessor bodies. So its not new for us. Were continuing that legacy that says were in the world and that Christ was in the world and that we take that as a model.
Then Davenport said: I love that. This is a path that weve always been on. I would say there are more people who are now living into this
Bishop Briner fully agreed: Were becoming bolder with our public witness, and I really appreciate that. And its not without a cost. If you look at our synods, we have a variety of political persuasions that sit in our pews, and so we recognize every time something like this happens, theres going to be conversation about it, and it may not always be pleasant conversation.
No doubt. Lutheran laity are traditionally more conservative politically, unlike their denominational elites. But no matter. Evidently the ELCA should, per the bishops, firmly identify as Religious Left.
Bishop Thomas-Breitfeld said: And were reminded that Jesus was political. He wasnt partisan. God is not a Republican or Democrat or independent. God is God. Jesus called out issues of how the poor, how the widow were being treated. That wasnt a partisan issue. That was a gospel issue.
But for the ELCA and other liberal Mainline denominational officials, Gospel issues always turn out to be on the political left, without exception.
So these bishops dont indicate any awareness of ELCAs misdirection or any need for course correction. Undoubtedly ELCA will lose another million members over the coming decade, in sync with other U.S. Mainline denominations.
But here is my personal prophecy: In about 15-20 years, when these bishops and other current Mainline elites are retired, and their denominations have further shrunk to a fraction of their current size, a new generation of leadership will recognize the disaster and embrace orthodoxy as the only hope for rejuvenation. They will seek to resurrect great ecclesial traditions by which time evangelical nondenominationalism may have run its course.
I hope and pray so.
People are not happy with the POLITICAL ACTIVITY of many churches. It is showing....
Who wants to be a member of a religion which doesn’t even believe its own Sacred Text?
What do you deem “political activity?” Talking about actions and sins of elected public officials from the pulpit? Going to city council meetings to voice concerns about proposed ordinances which promote wickedness?
I once knew an ELCA pastor, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, who admitted to me that he did not believe in the Trinity.
I once met a Southern Baptist seminary professor who was all on board with the evolutionary origins of man. He basically scrapped Genesis.
We jus’ wants the POWER!
Ta hell with those “congregation” people out there.
Ta hell with that there (diminishing) “collection plate” thingy.
CONTROL IS IT!! IT’S ALL WE WANT!!
Forgedabaht all that ‘God’ stuff, anyway.
The apostate ELCA is not Lutheran, nor Christian.
My late parents, both devout Lutherans throughout their lives, would have found an alternative to the nonsense being espoused by the bishops quoted in the posted article. Their last church was Missouri Synod. Perhaps it’s a bit more focused on the salvation of souls through faith in Christ. Even my Dad, with all his tribulations, retained his faith. He just focused a lot on the Book of Job.
Praise the Lord!
...Instead, Bishop Susan Briner of Southwestern Texas Synod declared: Because Im telling you what, the Spirit is up to something
...And the other bishops responded: Amen. Yes, she is.
The Holy Spirit has a gender, im Appalled!
Maybe someone should go and tack 95 theses to the door.
Wait a minute...
These fools simply use the buffet method where each can select what they believe and what they dismiss. The ELCA needs to crash!! Disgusting liberals infect everything.
While being a member of the LCMS, I found that they support the LIRS (Luther Immigration and Refugee Service). A church member broadcast a call for donations to this (liberal crap) organization. I sent him a 16-page doc on what is wrong with this LIRS. No response. I suspect that if the LCMS English District dug a little deeper they might not support LIRS; however, I am not so sure.
As my wife and I approach our 80 year mark on this orb, we see more and more liberalism in all churches. This 24/7 attack on the bible and Gospels seems to be happening in all mainline churches.
We may just stay home and read Max Lucado books and John 3:16!
“Who wants to be a member of a religion which doesnt even believe its own Sacred Text?”
Unfortunately, this is the question that most of us are facing or will be.
Did they just gender-assume on the Holy Spirit?
Thats so sad. There should be a church for you somewhere.
Simply put, they are not worshiping the Triune God anymore.
“Thats so sad. There should be a church for you somewhere.”
Thanks for your concern.
Only the liberals in the mainline churches are happy. The rest are like most of us, waiting for the next shoe to drop.
We saw this happen with my wife’s mother/my MIL over a decade ago.
My wife’s grand parents helped to start and keep going the Methodist Church in their small mid west town. Her mother was a volunteer and donor all of her life.
The recent and past members had no choice re who their ministers were. They were chosen by their bishops. Every time a new pair of ministers were chosen, (her church could barely afford one minister), the more liberal they were.
They didn’t visit the old back bone members of the Church and went more liberal with each sermon.
She stopped contributing, and when she was able went to the Baptist Church.
As per her will, her funeral was in a funeral home, 10 miles away and the local Baptist Minister gave the eulogy.
A couple of years later, her former church closed the doors as donations dried up as members left or died. It is now a meeting place for various non profits.
If our church goes that way, we will just stay at home and have prayer meetings with our long time church friends. Besides losing members, who still do a lot at the church, the 10 couples donate between 35/45 K per year. 2 couples in this group have stopped going and donating. Besides doing a lot of work at the church, they were contributing about 7+ k/ year at a minimum.
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