Archive for the ‘Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’ Category

Why the Lutheran World Federation is a Fraud

February 1st, 2013 Comments off


Fraud: A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury. Fraud is commonly understood as dishonesty calculated for advantage. A person who is dishonest may be called a fraud. 

Disclaimer: I am well aware that there are well-meaning, sincere confessional Lutherans who have chosen to affiliate with the LWF and there are a variety of historic reasons for this; however, they need to be aware that the Lutheran World Federation, as an “institution” or, as they insist on referring to themselves, as as “communion” of churches is simply a fraud. It is not Lutheran. It is not a Biblical “communio.” Those who continue to affiliate with LWF should do so only under ongoing protest against the insidious anti-Lutheran agenda that has the LWF in a vice-grip of error. Years ago when it was first

Liberal ecumenists and academics throughout much of world Lutheranism will recoil in horror when, or if, they read the assertion: “The Lutheran World Federation is a fraud!” Nonetheless, it is a truth that can not, and must not be, ignored or avoided, or swept aside with the polite tut-tutting of the ever-so proper and gentile pursuers of ecumenical agendas. The Lutheran World Federation is a fraud precisely because it is not Lutheran but wishes to assert itself as such, deceiving the innocent laity and pious who actually still may believe that the Six Chief Parts of Luther’s Catechisms are, wholly, Biblical truth.

The LWF insists on no clear confession of the Lutheran confession of God’s Word. It can not even insist that members confess even the simple truths of the Small Catechism as binding dogmatic statements on all who would wish to be, and remain, Lutheran. For example, when the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America waxes eloquent about homosexuality and ecumenical agreements with Calvinists and Catholics, this is simply the fraud of the LWF on display for all to see. When the LWF claims to represent 70.5 million Christians, this is yet another fraud. It does not see the Lutheran Confessions as a pure exposition of God’s Word, but can only wimper about seeing “in them” a pure exposition of God’s Word. Fraud and more fraud.

Oh, yes, there is much nostalgia about Martin Luther and the Reformation, but the large, liberal Western Churches that ostensibly bankroll the Lutheran World Federation bureaucracy with its incessant conferences, meetings and pious-blathering issuing forth from keyboards in Geneva, have long ago set aside any semblance of orthodox Lutheran Christian confession. No more across their seminaries and institutions of higher learning are the condemnations of the Lutheran Confessions held forth as true for our day, in fact, quite the opposite.

Any such notion that the Calvinist confession of the Lord’s Supper is false is regarded as “rigid dogmatism” or that the Roman view of Justification is contrary to the very Gospel is now regarded as “harsh confessional arrogance” and the like. Many years ago, Herman Sasse was sounding the alarm, which went unheeded even among The LCMS’ academics who were looking all starry-eyed at the notion of Lutheran union in America and in Europe.

Are we who wish to be and remain confessional Lutherans in the United States of America willing to recognize reality and speak against it and in support of the truth of the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions which so beautifully set them forth? Will we continue to welcome the scandal of being a confessional church? We do see encouraging signs coming from member churches of the LWF, rising up to reject and condemn the homosexual and feminist agenda that has exploded throughout liberal Lutheran Churches as the fruit, rotten to the core, born by the great trees planted and watered by the liberal theologians who for many decades have controlled the theology of USA and European Lutheran organizations, churches and “unions” of all kinds.

Keep in mind when you read the following quote from Sasse he was writing this many decades ago, long before the large liberal Western churches that control the LWF had gone even further down the road of compromising the Lutheran Confessions with Reformed, Calvinists, Roman Catholics, etc. and had embraced a social/moral agenda including abortion on demand and homosexuality!

Thus, Sasse:

“According to its very nature, the Lutheran Church, the Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, is a confessional church in the strict sense and can only exist as such. This is the unmistakable lesson of American church history.

“There would be no Lutheranism in America today if Lutherans had lacked the courage to present to the world, also and particularly to the Christian world, the skandalon of a confessional church. They knew from Holy Scripture that there is no heart that believes without a mouth that confesses (Rom. 10: 9– 10). They had learned from Luther that faith comes by preaching, the preaching of the pure Gospel, and that the church lives by the Word of God taught in its truth and purity and the Sacraments administered according to the institution of the Lord Christ. Despite the religious and irreligious trends of their century, they were not ashamed to identify themselves with the great dogmas of the orthodox church of all the ages, with the doctrines of the Lutheran Confessions, because they had come to recognize in them the true exposition of Holy Scripture as the inerrant [untrüglich] Word of God.

“Thereby American Lutheranism became an enigma to its environment. For with the exception of a few remnants of old Reformed Churches, American Protestantism is not familiar with a doctrinal type of Christianity. Only by means of this “rigid” (as the world calls it), firm, and clear position was Lutheranism able to maintain itself. There was no Lutheranism that was receptive to the influences of the world, that was broad-minded, liberal, and modern. There were indeed Lutherans who became liberal. But then they ceased to be Lutherans.

“Really that was also the case in Europe. What makes men like Söderblom and Harnack 19 look like Lutherans is finally merely a sort of nostalgia for the Lutheran Church. What is Lutheranism without the actual incarnation, without the miracles that belong to the enfleshed God-man, without the real presence of the body and blood of Christ, without the washing of regeneration? There is no Lutheranism save that which is “orthodox.” Anything else may be a beautiful, congenial humanitarianism and Christianity, but it is not Lutheranism. That must be kept in mind, even when one is, with an all-embracing love, gathering those who adhere to the Church of the Augsburg Confession. Our Church does not burn heretics nor judge consciences. But it does concern itself about true doctrine and must concern itself about it. A Lutheran Church that would not do that, a Church that would not train and guide its pastors to this end, a Church that no longer shields its members against false doctrine is no longer a Lutheran Church.

“There is a connection between this doctrinal character of the Lutheran Church and the fact that in the modern world it invariably functions as a foreign entity. This, by the way, has been the case ever since Luther parted company with Erasmus. The great truths of Lutheran doctrine call forth the ridicule of the world: beginning with the doctrine of man and his sin, which runs counter to all natural anthropology; continuing with the doctrine of justification, which implies the end of all natural morality; culminating in the doctrine of Christ and of salvation, and the doctrine of the church and the Sacraments. But this estrangement over against the world [Weltfremdheit] is the alienization of the true church. This unreasonableness is the unreasonableness of the true Gospel.”


Herman Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors: Volume 1, “Letter Ten: On the Problem of the Union of Lutheran Churches-1949.” (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2013), p. 167-168.

Pro-Homosexuality Congregations Praised for their “Forward-Thinking” Ministry and Accepted Back into Membership

July 16th, 2012 3 comments

“There’s been an acknowledgment that these two congregations were forward-thinking and committed to their ministry,” said Bishop Mark Holmerud to the San Francisco Chronicle at the time. “They took a stand, paid the consequences, and our church has finally seen the wisdom of our opening the rosters to all committed gay and lesbian couples. And we’re all the better for it.”

A line from a San Francisco paper reporting on how two ELCA congregations, which had been expelled from the ELCA, have now been received back into membership in the ELCA.

Here’s the full story.

Why the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s “Bound Conscience” Concept is Not Being Followed

October 4th, 2010 9 comments

From the CORE blog site:

Services receiving persons who are in same-sex sexual relationships as ELCA pastors have included attacks on the “bound consciences” of those who uphold Biblical teaching on sexual behavior.

Even though the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly committed the ELCA to “respect the bound consciences of all,” recent worship services receiving the new ELCA pastors have included “confessions” stating that holding the traditional teaching of the Christian Church on sexual ethics is sinful.

ELCA officials claim that holding a traditional understanding of Biblical teaching on homosexual behavior is still an acceptable perspective within the church body. If so, these synod services do not show respect for the “bound consciences” of those who hold what the ELCA claims is a recognized and faithful perspective on Scripture.

In leading or authorizing these “confessions,” ELCA synod leaders imply that they believe that those who uphold traditional Christian teaching are persisting in “sin” and in need of correction.

The Sept. 18 “Rite of Reception” service of the St. Paul (Minn.) Area Synod opened with the Rev. Herbert Chilstrom, former presiding bishop of the ELCA, leading the congregation in a “confession” that recounted the sins of the ELCA regarding its former teaching and practice regarding same-sex sexual relationships. Chilstrom has been a longtime vocal advocate of change in ELCA teaching and policy.

“We have dishonored faithful covenants and withheld from families the respect that they deserve. We continue to debate the worthiness of sanctioning couples whose unions are legally recognized and whose lives are intrinsically rooted through the longstanding fidelity of bonds of parenthood,” Chilstrom said.

“We have used Scripture as a tool of discrimination. . . . We have encouraged violence, promoted invisibility, and rewarded lies,” the congregation responded using words printed in the order of service.

“We have disciplined, censured and expelled when we could have listened, learned and included,” Chilstrom said. “We have studied God’s people, withholding justice so long that count-less died believing their identities and relationships were not worthy of blessing by the church that baptized them.”

“We have seen an oppressive policy overturned. We have witnessed the removal of twin yokes of censure and expulsion. We have seen joy on the faces of synod officials who are now released to do the work of the gospel,” Chilstrom said.

The Sierra Pacific Synod’s “Rite of Reception” service, July 25 in San Francisco, Calif., included a similar “confession.”

Synod Bishop Mark Holmerud began the service by “confessing” the sins of “our church” against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons. “Our church of the reformation has been too long captive to bias and misinformation,” he said.

The bishop then read a litany of the church’s sins including:

“We have not respected the gift of sexuality . . . We have not honored faithful and loving promises, marriages, and covenantal relationships. We have not acted quickly enough for some who have died and have not made it to this day. . . . We have betrayed fellow members of the body of Christ because of cultural prejudice. We have misused Scripture as a tool of discrimination. We have forced celibacy upon too many . . . We have promoted invisibility and dishonesty. . . . We have intimidated and disciplined, censured and expelled.”

The “Rite of Reception” services have also included elements that many Lutherans would find offensive or even heretical. These elements demonstrate that some of the practicing gay and lesbian persons being received as ELCA pastors and some synod bishops may deviate from Biblical and traditional expressions and understandings of the Christian faith.

Biblical language for God — including the word Lord and the Triune name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, — was removed from parts of liturgies.

Both synods included options for the Lord’s Prayer that included calling God “Mother” rather than “Our Father.”

The Minnesota service began the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father Mother God in heaven.” The California service included as one of the options for the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer from the “goddess rosary” that begins, “Our Mother who is within us.”

Video of the services is available online. Read more…

Lutheran Church Apologizes for, At One Time, Being Faithful to God’s Word. What Would Luther say?

September 23rd, 2010 12 comments

The Rev. Anita Hill received acclamation by the assembly on Saturday during the Rite of Reception at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul.

This from Dr. Al Mohler’s blog.

The great moral revolution on the issue of homosexuality collides with the total surrender of a liberal denomination and the result is the church’s apology for having once stood on biblical grounds. That was the picture just a few days ago when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America welcomed three lesbian ministers into the clergy roster through a “Rite of Reception” ceremony held last Saturday at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul, Minnesota.

As the Star Tribune reported: “In a ceremony that started with a public mea culpa and ended with a prolonged standing ovation, three lesbian ministers were officially embraced Saturday by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”

This comes in the wake of the denomination’s vote this past summer to rescind a policy that prevented clergy in homosexual relationships from bring listed on the church’s official clergy roster. Since then, conservatives have moved to organize a new Lutheran denomination.

The most interesting part of the “Rite of Reception” was a confession voiced by the congregation. Look closely at this:

We have fallen short in honoring all people of God and being an instrument for that grace . . . . We have disciplined, censured and expelled when we should have listened, learned and included.”

That’s right — the church actually confessed the “sin” of having once stood on biblical ground, and the “sin” of exercising church discipline.

Given their new policy on homosexuality, it is the one who affirms the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality that is called to repent, rather than the unrepentant homosexual.

What would Martin Luther say? It would doubtless be colorful and thunderous. But here is something he did say that fits the situation perfectly:

“You should not believe your conscience and your feelings more than the word which the Lord who receives sinners preaches to you.”

Jeff Strickler, “Anita Hill, Two Other Lesbians in Committed Relationships Welcomed as ELCA Pastors,” The Star Tribune [Minneapolis, MN], Sunday, September 19, 2010.

Gay Lutheran Pastors to Be Placed on ELCA Clergy Roster

July 26th, 2010 11 comments

No big surprises here, but it is still sad and tragic that this is happening. In light of the decisions by the ELCA at their last Churchwide Assembly, a number of pastors who had been kept off their clergy roster, are now being placed back on it, including one who describes herself as a “transgendered lesbian.” Here is a link to the Associated Press story. Here is a snippet from the story:

Rohrer, who is transgender and a lesbian, was ordained by four congregations in San Francisco in 2006, but could not join the ELCA roster until the denomination’s national assembly approved the new policy in August.

“I didn’t really believe the policy was going to change as quickly as it did,” she said.

Rohrer said she is hopeful Sunday’s service will be a “symbol” to young people that the Lutheran church is working toward becoming more welcoming of people of all different backgrounds.

Jeff Johnson, another one of the pastors who will be added to the roster, said the ELCA’s position for years of not accepting the choice of some congregations to ordain gay clergy was painful and disappointing.

“The actions the church is taking on Sunday affirms the decisions of those congregations,” Johnson, pastor of the University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley, said. “The church is respecting our family, our partners, the choices we’re making.”

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

April 26th, 2010 6 comments

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.

This is What the ELCA’s Move Away from Biblical Christianity Means

April 25th, 2010 10 comments

I heard today from a couple who wrote to me, in response to my post about baptism, and said, “Pastor McCain, because of what happened in our ELCA church we are now attending a church that teaches that only adults should be baptized. Here is what they said:

“This issue is of great interest to my wife and I. Since leaving an ELCA congregation we have been attending a church that preaches adult baptism and does not recognize infant baptism. Personally I am skeptical of the entire infant baptism vs. adult baptism debate. I don’t even know if baptism should be considered a sacrament. The story about the penitent thief on the cross (Luke 23: 39-43) seems to undermine both sides in that argument, since I doubt that fellow was ever baptized. Arguments about baptism remind me somewhat about arguments concerning eating meat offered to idols (1 Cor eight) – lots of heat, but little light.”

Yes, dear reader, this is the tragedy of the ELCA situation. And make no mistake about it. It is a tragedy of immense proportions. The ELCA decisions regarding homosexuality have scandalized the faithful to the point that people are now abandoning the simple faith taught to them in their basic confirmation course.

How should we respond?

Reach out! For God’s sake, reach out a helping hand of love and concern, and invite them back to the truth of God’s Word! Extend to them friendship. Do more listening, than talking. Bear their burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Now is not the time for timidity, but for great boldness!  Boldness in the Lord! Boldness for the sake of the Gospel of Christ! Boldness for the sake of the eternal welfare of souls!

Here is how I responded to the message I received this late-afternoon.

Dear Brother and Sister in Christ,

May I make an appeal to you, in the name of Christ?

Please, oh, please, do not let the horrendous troubles in the ELCA drive you away from the Gospel of Christ! A church that teaches that only adults should be baptized is teaching contrary to Jesus words, “Let the little children come to me.” Please do not abandon Lutheranism.

How may I help you find a new church home that is faithful to God’s precious, holy Word and His blessed Sacraments?

Paul McCain

An Opportunity for Faithful Clarity: The Diverging Paths in American Lutheranism

November 18th, 2009 5 comments

lutherroseI have been enjoying looking through older articles and essays in my files, and the other day ran across a copy of President A. L. Barry’s President’s Newsletter, from February 1997, more than twelve years ago. As I reflect on recent events in the Lutheran Church here in the United States, I was struck by the poignant relevancy of President Barry’s remarks. I thought I’d pass along an article he wrote calling for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod to take up the opportunity presented for faithful clarity. Here is what President Barry wrote:

An Opportunity for Faithful Clarity:

The Diverging Paths of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Introducing the Opportunity

Over the past few months I have received any number of letters asking me two questions. The first question: “What is th e Missouri Synod’s response to the ELCA’s consideration of full communion with the Episcopalians and three Reformed Churches, and the lifting of the Reformation condemnations over against the Roman Catholic Church?” Following this question, the second generally is: “What are the key theological differences between the LCMS and the ELCA?”

Understandably, when Missouri Synod Lutheran laymen and laywomen hear about the proposals the ELCA is considering, they are led to wonder what our Synod thinks about thi s, and how one should respond to them. Often our church workers are asked about these matters. And so, I felt that it was both appropriate and necessary for me to share the following thoughts and observations in regard to these two important questions.

I would like to begin first by indicating that I approach this task with some very genuine pastoral concerns. The last thing I want to do is to stir up feelings of hurt and anger between our two church bodies or cause consternation in families that have per sons who are members in the LCMS and the ELCA. Many in our Synod enjoy long and close associations and friendships with individuals who belong to the ELCA, particularly since we were once in fellowship with groups that now belong to the ELCA, for instance the American Lutheran Church. Understandably, these issues can generate strong emotions as we find ourselves expressing heart-felt concerns to our brothers and sisters in Christ in the ELCA.

It is important for us to recognize that for the sake of our co nfession of the truths of God’s Word and in line with our commitment to the Lutheran Confessions, we must speak a word of faithful clarity and express our genuine concerns. Rather than being something negative, I believe that our Synod has a very good opportunity clearly to affirm the truth of God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions. In love, we need to say, “This we believe, teach, confess and practice.”

In the paragraphs that follow I would like first to summarize briefly the ecumenical proposals being considered by the ELCA; secondly, offer a critique of these proposals, and then thirdly, discuss some of the important differences between our two churches.

Read more…