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What’s Going on with the Reforming Movements in the ELCA? Update

April 26th, 2010
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I’m sure you, like me, are watching what’s going on among more conservative members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with keen interest. The most important organization to keep your eye on, at this point, is CORE, [Coalition for Renewal] which is the new organization formed as a result of meetings of a number of other groups in the ELCA. They have announced their intention to proceed with the formation of a new Lutheran church body, North American Lutheran Church (NALC). From the latest reports out of the ELCA’s office in Chicago, we know that hundreds of congregations have already formally voted to leave, or are in the process required for doing so: a series of votes in the congregation requiring 2/3 majority. Here is the story with that information in it.

But where will these congregations go? There are many directions they can choose. I know that The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod continues to receive frequent contacts from pastors, laity and congregations wondering what provisions there are in our church body’s constitution and bylaws for such things. Much remains in a state of flux and formation. But here is where you can read the latest information from CORE, note particularly their April 2010 newsletter.

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  1. Steve
    April 26th, 2010 at 06:23 | #1

    One of the basic question I ask is this: Does the new “post-ELCA” organization take a view of Holy Scripture that is consistent with the current view of the ELCA or do they take a position more in line with the LCMS? If they continue with the same view of Holy Scripture, how do they prevent ending up in the same spot that ELCA is in now?

  2. Jonathan
    April 26th, 2010 at 08:24 | #2

    Steve asks a great question. The “Re” in their name stands for “Renewal,” which seems to imply they are taking a position of “here, but no further,” or in other words, they want to simply go back to the days of pre-sexuality study in their synod like a Walmart price roll-back if you will. For a meaningful change, they would do well to adopt a different “Re” in their name, that being “Reform.”

  3. Michael Mapus
    April 26th, 2010 at 09:49 | #3


    They still have a position on scripture that is similar with the ELCA. That’s why I’m not going to waste my time watching them repeat the same mistakes over and over. All they have done is turn back the clock to 1988. I used to be involved with the Word Alone network. I still get their monthly newsletter, but never in their writings do they mention the scriptures as inerrant. This was verified ten years ago with a personal phone conversation I had with their president at that time, Mark Chavez. I asked him point blank: Does Word Alone or you have the same view of scripture as the LCMS or WELS? He answered no. That was enough for me. Thank God for the WELS, ELS and LCMS.

  4. Bethany Kilcrease
    April 26th, 2010 at 09:52 | #4

    Steve: Bingo! It’s sad, but with the exact same view of Scripture that the ELCA has, in 20-50 years they’ll be in the same spot all over again. They’re only dealing with symptoms of the problem, not the root cause.

    Bethany Kilcrease

  5. April 26th, 2010 at 19:31 | #5

    Three basic problems with the ELCA-”reformers”: 1) their overall view of scripture; 2) their embrace of women’s ordination; 3) their ambiguity about the sanctity of human life re: abortion. Once these three problems are understood, the overall problem facing the ELCA refugees is apparent. Theological and moral orthodoxy are already undermined — and in fact, the root causes of the problems re: same-sex relationships remain in place.

    Sad to see — particularly since here in Spokane there is a very vibrant CORE-related parish.

  6. April 28th, 2010 at 07:44 | #6

    @Michael Mapus
    “All they have done is turn back the clock to 1988.” But I think, Michael, you are being way too chronologically optimistic. For those who may not know:’88 is the year that the ELCA was officially formed, January 1st to be exact. The group charged with forming the ELCA was the Commission for the New Lutheran Church (CNLC) or the LXX (another designation for the 70 pastors and theologians of CNLC). I think the readers here will find this quote interesting. It is from the 1984 Winter edition of ‘dialog: a journal of theology’. It has a section “Merger Watch”. Robert Jenson was the editior and in his piece on the CNLC meeting in Columbus, OH, “Dismal Thoughts on the LXX at Columbus”, he concluded with this:

    “Another bet on which one should now accept shorter odds is about the shape of the new denomination that will finally emerge. It will be—it seems more and more likely—an hypertrophy of those that now exist. It will have the same general sort of regional units, with the same general sort of pseudo-bishops. It will have central bureaucracies controlled by no one but their professional ideologies. It will shape the ordained ministry as an all-purpose cadre of professional religious entrepreneurs and functionaries. It will be sectarian in its structural relation to the rest of the church. The LXX representative to a recent meeting of synodical personages insisted that they were too going to be creative: the new church would be “inclusive”.”

    The handwriting was on the wall. BTW: that same edition of dialog there are favorable articles on “black theology” and inclusive language.

    But going farther back in time: I asked one day a dear colleague of mine, a retired ELCA pastor, who graduated from Lutheran Theological Seminary/Philadelphia in ’57: Did they teach historical criticism then? “Yes.” We/they have been repeating the same mistakes for over a Biblical generation. As Yogi Berra famously said: “It’s deja vu all over again”.

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