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Why the Lutheran World Federation is a Fraud

February 1st, 2013 Comments off

Fraud

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.”

Source:

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.

How to Write a Truly Awful Worship Song

July 17th, 2012 12 comments

 

Brought to you by Pastor Riley’s blog, written by Stephen Altrogge, I present a quick “How To” on writing an awful worship song. HT: MZH for tweeting this.

So you finally learned to play the guitar and now you’re wondering,“How do I write a truly awful worship song?” You’ve come to the right place my friend. Here are some sure fire ways to write a truly horrible worship song.

Recycle A Love Song. Write a song for your girlfriend. When she breaks up with you, convert it into a worship song. Be sure to change all uses of “girl” or “baby”.

Use Time Tested Rhymes. Make sure that you rhyme “love” and “above” at least twice. The song becomes doubly awful if you can also incorporate the word “dove”. Example: “You sent your love from above, makes my heart feel like a pure white dove.” You get the point.

Be Vague About Your Theology. Make sure to avoid any theology at all costs. Don’t talk about atonement, wrath, or any other biblical concepts. You want your song to be all about feeling. Don’t let the mind get in the way. Repeat after me: “Worship is a warm feeling, sort of like heartburn, only better.”

Make the Song All About You.  The main point of your song should be your experiences and how God makes you feel. Don’t bother with objective truth about God. I would suggest that you use the words “I” or “me” at least 12-15 times. For example, “I feel like singing, yes I feel like spinning, because You make me feel so good inside. Like it’s my birthday, but more awesome.”

Be Incredibly Poetic. If you can, muddy the waters with poetic phrases that don’t make much sense. Example: “Your love is like a warm summer’s breeze, washing over my heart like a crystal river.”

Use Well-Worn Musical Progressions. If you can, keep your music and melody boring. I would suggest that you use no more than four distinct notes in a song, so that by the time someone is done listening to it they want to scream. A worship scream, but a scream nonetheless. It also helps if you use the chords G, C, and D over and over.

Defend Your Song Like It’s Your Firstborn Child. Do not, I repeat, do not, let anyone make suggestions for improvement. Tell people that God laid the song on your heart. Tell people that you really want to preserve the artistic integrity of the song. Tell people that you already did the song at your campus ministry and that a revival broke out. Don’t take advice from anyone.

There you have it. Seven ways to write a terrible worship song. You can thank me later.

Episcopalians Lead the March Over the Cliff: Approve Rite for Blessing Homosexual “Marriages”

July 10th, 2012 12 comments

From Reuters News Service: The U.S. Episcopal Church is poised to become the first major religious denomination in the United States to approve a rite for blessing gay marriages after its bishops overwhelmingly approved such a liturgy on Monday. The proposed blessing was agreed by the church’s Chamber of Bishops at a meeting in Indianapolis and is expected to receive final approval from its House of Deputies later this week, Ruth Meyers, a chair of the Episcopalians’ Subcommittee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music, told Reuters. The decision would go into effect in December and make the Episcopal Church, an independent U.S.-based institution affiliated with global Anglicanism, the biggest U.S. church to allow a liturgy for same-sex marriages. The Episcopal Church is the 14th-largest denomination in the United States with nearly 2 million adherents, according to the National Council of Churches. The United Church of Christ, a mainstream Protestant denomination with about a million members, has gone further so far than any other U.S. church, voting in 2005 to support same sex marriage. The new Episcopal same-sex liturgy, called “the Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” would be a standard rite for same-sex marriage.

And there you go. Of course, the United Church of Christ and the ECUSA are now in full communion with the ELCA…just a matter of time there as well.

German Theologian Discusses Challenges Faced by Protestants

April 24th, 2012 3 comments
A left-wing feminist German theologian misses the mark, as usual …
German theologian discusses challenges faced by Protestants
ENI-12-0234
By A. D. McKenzie
Paris, 23 April (ENInews)–The Protestant church faces three main challenges as it gears up to celebrate the 500th anniversary in 2017 of Martin Luther’s Reformation, according to a leading theologian.
Margot Kassmann, former head of the Protestant Church of Germany (EKD) and ambassador for the anniversary, told ENInews that Protestants need to examine their role in an increasingly secular society.
“I think what Luther did to transform the Biblical message into popular context is also a challenge now for us as well,” she said.
A second challenge will be “how do we deal with the Reformation after 100 years of ecumenical movement. Who are we together?” Kassmann added.
A third and very important challenge, said Kassmann, is Luther’s legacy regarding Jews and their religion. “This is a terrible heritage because what he said about Jews certainly misled the Lutheran church to an anti-Judaism stance that in Nazi times created a situation where the church did not defend Jewish people in Germany,” she told ENInews. “That has to be critically reflected upon.”
A controversial figure in Germany, Kassmann was in Paris on 20 April to promote the French translation of her book “In midlife: What Future After 50 Years of Age?”
The book has sold more than 500,000 copies in Germany, apparently striking a chord with Protestants who identify with Kassmann’s unconventional views and life.
A mother of four, Kassmann was the first female bishop to have children, and the first to divorce while in office. In 2009, she was elected head of the EKD, a federation of regional church bodies representing 25 million members. She was the first woman to head the organization and saw a wellspring of support as well as some opposition to her views.
But she resigned the following year following a drunk-driving incident in which she ran a red light and was found to have three times the legal limit of alcohol in her system when tested. Kassmann is also a cancer survivor and is seen to represent many women in the Protestant church.
“I must say that I had a long way to go,” Kassmann said about her role as a female religious leader. “It certainly was not easy. But in Germany today, 30 percent of Protestant pastors are women, and that changes the church because what you see is an image of who the church is.”
Women will play an integral part in the worldwide celebrations to mark the Reformation, and Kassmann believes their contribution has made a big difference to Protestantism.
“Luther would have said that anyone can be priest, anyone who has been baptized, and so that’s a theological conviction that’s now being seen in pastors in Germany and the world,” Kassmann told ENInews. “I think that’s a very good road we’re on.”
Categories: Liberal Lutheranism

UCC “Flash Eucharist” and Sad Bunny

July 15th, 2011 9 comments

I watched this and felt like this:

 

Categories: Liberal Lutheranism

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada: To Vote on Gay Clergy and Gay Marriage

July 13th, 2011 7 comments

Picked this up from the Internet. The Evangelical Lutheran in Canada, the ELCA’s sister church in Canada holds its church convention this week and here are the “big three” items on their agenda, quotes from the resolutions being put forward. First, one that would dismiss any concerns about unity being divided over the second two items, of course. And so it goes.

1. Motion on the Unity of the Church
MOVED that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in convention adopt the following affirmation as representing the position of this church and communicate this action to congregations, partner churches in Canada, sister churches in the Lutheran World Federation and other Lutheran church associations in Canada.

An Affirmation Concerning the Unity of the Church
As a confessional Lutheran Church which bases its life and teaching on the Scriptures, the Ecumenical Creeds and the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada affirms with the confessors at Augsburg in 1530 that “it is enough for the unity of the church to agree concerning the teaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments” (AC VII).

We affirm that the church ought not be divided because of disagreement over moral issues, no matter how distressing such disagreement might be. We believe that any attempt to divide the church because of disagreements over morals, polity or liturgy is an unacceptable confusion of Law and Gospel, which will lead inevitably to a distortion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We encourage ELCIC members, congregations and synods and churches who share our commitment to the scriptures, creeds and confessions and who disagree with one another over issues of morals, polity (including standards for ordination or consecration) and/or liturgy to remain in dialogue and unity with one another and maintain unity in the gospel and the sacraments as St Paul recommends in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. We encourage all Lutherans to work for and nurture the unity of the confessional witness to the Gospel which is essential to the Lutheran tradition. We ask those persons, congregations, synods and/or churches who are in disagreement to refrain from actions that will divide the body of Christ.

2. Motion on Presiding at or Blessing Marriages
MOVED that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in convention adopt the following policy statement:

It is the policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada that rostered ministers may, according to the dictates of their consciences as informed by the Gospel, the Scriptures, the Ecumenical Creeds and the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, preside at or bless legal marriages according to the laws of the province within which they serve. All rostered ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada are encouraged to exercise due diligence in preparing couples for marriage. All rostered ministers serving congregations are encouraged at all times to conduct their ministry in consultation with the lay leaders in the congregation and with sensitivity to the culture within which the congregation serves.

3. Motion on Standards for Ordination and Consecration
MOVED that convention actions NC-1993-16 and NC-1989-96 be rescinded and that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in convention adopt the following policy:

It is the policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada that sexual orientation is not in itself a factor which disqualifies a candidate for rostered ministry or a rostered minister seeking a call. Candidates and rostered ministers are in all cases expected to adhere to the qualifications and standards as set out in the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and of the synod within which they serve. Synods and congregations are expected to evaluate candidates for ordination or consecration and rostered ministers for call in accordance with a conscience informed by the Gospel, the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.

Categories: Liberal Lutheranism

Apostasy in the Raw: United Church of Christ Scratches “Heavenly Father” Out

July 11th, 2011 14 comments

 

UCC spokesperson Barb Powell told World Net Daily: “In the UCC, our language for God, Christ and the Holy Spirit … is preferred to be more open for different expressions of the Trinity. Heavenly Father is just one vision.”

If you have not heard about this already, you need to be aware that the United Church of Christ has recently, quite literally, lined through reference to God as Father in their governing documents. Friends, you will hear some theologians and pastors, perhaps even ones that claim to be conservative, try to justify this, or make excuse for it, or explain it away, or try to ignore this reality, but here it is: this is apostasy in the raw. There is no fuzz on this peach, no grey areas here. This is nothing more and nothing less than open rebellion against the Holy Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

But here is where this raises huge questions for all Christians. Let me put a few of them forward.

How can a baptism performed in a United Church of Christ congregation be recognized as valid and legitimate any longer since the UCC has taken this step?

What implications does the fact that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is in full communion with the UCC have for that church body’s commitment to the holy, catholic faith? If the ELCA does not sever its full communion with the UCC over this, that means, frankly, that the ELCA is giving its de facto and tacit approval of this action? And in that case, the implications for any baptism performed in the ELCA are ominous, since full communion is an expression of fundamental agreement and unity in doctrine between church bodies.

Pastor Peters blogged about this and he wisely notes that this decision has implications for all parish pastors in all church bodies. He writes, “It seems that from now on we better check any baptism from the UCC on a case by case basis because any baptism not in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit cannot in confidence be a baptism at all…. just something to think about….”

I don’t think we can afford to stick our heads in the sand on this one.

Here are the important details of this disaster from the Louisville newspaper, the Courier-Journal

“According to a United Church of Christ spokesman, it isn’t news that the liberal Protestant denomination is moving to delete a reference in its constitution from “Heavenly Father” to “Triune God.” Decades of theological change lay behind it. Yet now it is putting the change on record.

The Rev. Bennett Guess told my colleague Cathy Lynn Grossman at USA Today:

“We no longer use exclusively male language to refer to God. We haven’t for a long time.”

The deletion prompted alarm among from a conservative activist group in the predominately liberal denomination.

It may not be new, but it’s still eye-catching to see the words crossed out in the constitutional change, even if the main point of the change was to merge five boards into one. The change would require ratification by two-thirds of the denomination’s 38 regional conferences by 2013. [PTM Note: I can't do a line through, so the words I've underlined are literally crossed out in the resolution passed by the UCC]

Here’s the salient paragraph from 13 pages of bylaw changes, with the revised language in blue and the deleted language crossed out. It was approved Monday at the denomination’s biennial governance meeting.

ARTICLE V. LOCAL CHURCHES

The basic unit of the life and organization of the United Church of Christ is the Local Church. A Local Church is composed of persons who, believing in the triune God as heavenly Father, and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and depending on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are organized for Christian worship, for the furtherance of Christian fellowship, and for the ongoing work of Christian witness.

Guess said the denomination was dealing “with bylaws written decades ago, before the denomination’s commitment to using inclusive and expansive imagery for God.” (The term “bylaws” sounds more perfunctory than “constitution,” especially when the “basic unit” of the church is described.) Another spokeswoman said members are free to refer to God as father or mother.

The United Church of Christ recorded 1.08 million members last year, down nearly 3 percent from the previous year and down by about half since its peak in the 1960s.

It was formed by a merger of the Evangelical and Reformed Church — itself formed by a merger of two historically German Protestant groups, with several congregations in the Louisville area — and the Congregational Christian Churches, whose organizational ancestors included the Puritans. Therein lies a tale.

In more recent years, the denomination has made headlines as the affiliate of President Obama’s former church in Chicago, headed by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright; and a controversial TV ad showing bouncers keeping people out of church (in contrast to the UCC’s declared inclusiveness.)”

A Serious Argument Against the Ordination of Women

June 10th, 2011 6 comments

 

I appreciated these words from an Anglican bishop in Rwanda, perhaps you will too.

A Serious Argument Against the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood and Episcopate

by The Rt. Rev. John Rodgers
June 6, 2011

A Case for the Male-Only Priesthood

God, being a God of order and being all-wise, good, and gracious, has ordered all things in creation for our good. This order in the creation he has retained and renewed in redemption. As part of this good order God has appointed the man to be the head of the family and to be the elder (presbyter) or priest in the wider family of the Church. God’s good order does not envision nor permit women to exercise the ministry of “headship” in the family, nor the ministry of oversight involved in the offices of the priesthood and episcopate as they are understood and practiced by Anglicans. This is in no way detrimental to women for God has an equally significant, different, and complementary ministry for women in the family and in the Church. This godly order is to be enjoyed and respected. When men and women are thus united in partnership we walk in the path of freedom and fulfillment. Other paths may seem attractive and promise much but in the end they prove deceptive and full of contention.

The reasons we hold these convictions are primarily drawn from Scripture. Attempts have been made to interpret the Scriptures to allow women to serve as co-heads of the family and as priests and bishops in the Church. Responsible exegesis simply will not support these interpretations nor does experience confirm them. Alongside Scripture there are other significant reasons found in the experience of God’s people in history and in God’s other book-the book of creation or nature-that corroborate the biblical reasons. We will mention only the most significant of them in this brief chapter.

The primary and chief factual point that we wish to make is this: nowhere in Scripture do we read of a woman being either a priest in the Old Testament or an elder in the New Testament. In the New Testament no woman was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles. Jesus could have chosen one of the women who accompanied him, prepared her along with the other apostles-in-training, and after the resurrection appointed her an apostle had he felt that to be appropriate. He did not do so. The same is true of the apostles. Not once did they appoint a woman to be a presbyter or bishop. It was the unvarying practice of God’s people from beginning of Israel to the close of Scripture to call men to these official, stated positions in the people of God. Israel did this in sustained and self-conscious contrast to the practice of the surrounding nations and religions.

Read more…

NEWS FLASH: Lutheran World Federation Seeks to Redefine Path!

June 10th, 2011 Comments off

I was very excited when this ENI story popped into my mail box recently. I hoped that it would be an article on how the LWF is going to finally embrace full-throated confessing Lutheranism and reject all errors contrary to it. Heck, I would have been happy enough with an announcement that it was even going to require all members to subscribe to the six chief parts of the Small Catechism, and reject errors contrary to them, but no…instead the LWF is redefining its path … to put more emphasis on climate change and disaster response. Shouldn’t they change their name to the United Nations or the Red Cross?

Lutheran community seeks to redefine path at meeting in Geneva
By Meritxell Mir

Geneva, 8 June (ENInews)–At a meeting taking place from 9 June through 14 June in Geneva, members of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) will vote on adopting a renewal process for the years 2012 through 2017 that places greater focus on responding to emergencies, especially those having to do with the environment. The new focus also includes proposals for increasing the role of youth and creating financial sustainability.

“There is a need to explore how to get involved in advocacy work that is linked to climate change,” said LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge, who is leading the renewal process. Under the proposal, Lutheran churches hope to be able to better respond to human suffering through coordinated actions with partners.

The creation of regional hubs for emergency response in countries such as El Salvador, Nairobi, and Kathmandu will make it easier to distribute food, water, medicines, and blankets in the event of a natural disaster. Lutherans were on the forefront of issues such as AIDS and the environment, said Junge, and from now on this will make up a bigger part of the LWF agenda.

With membership of many big churches declining, the LWF needs to find new ways to ensure it can continue its mission. “We can have a reasonably realistic plan only for the next three years,” said Junge, “so we cannot say what the situation in 2017 will be. The organization has plans to develop relationships and raise funds, but if that doesn’t work, it will have to reduce expenses.”

LWF leaders think it’s crucial to give young church members a bigger role. “We believe young people should be able to participate in decision-making for the church as a whole, not just for youth programs,” said Junge. “Youth should not be treated as the future, but as the present of the church.”

The LWF’s proposed agenda comes in response to several factors, such as increased global connectivity, widening gaps between the rich and the poor, widespread natural disasters, more forced and voluntary migration, and increased secularization in the Western world. The new strategy consists of a more structured and efficient system for linking churches with training opportunities, scholarships, and education. The biggest challenge, according to leaders, is bringing different views and perspectives together in a way that affirms a shared vision for all Lutheran churches in a coherent, long-term strategy.

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Communion Without Baptism: A Perfectly Consistent Practice

May 28th, 2011 25 comments

David Virtue, who for years has been documenting errors and problems across the worldwide Anglican communion, had an interesting article on this growing trend, which I’ve also seen popping up in ELCA congregations as well. For that matter, in those congregations that do not practice a serious approach to closed communion, I think there is little to prevent this practice, de facto, from happening. Your thoughts? Here is Mr. Virtue’s article.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy on Communion without Baptism
Date 2011/5/25 8:50:00 | Topic: Exclusives

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy on Communion without Baptism

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
May 25, 2011

[Holy Communion] It is unofficial of course. No one is supposed to know it is going on and it is certainly not approved by the canons of The Episcopal Church – but it is happening around the country. Communion is being offered to people who are not baptized. It is known as Communion Without Baptism (CWOB).

The most blatant case was at a House of Bishops meeting in 2001 presided over by then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. In Arrowhead in March of that year, bishops were forced to sit through lectures by a Jewish faculty member from Griswold’s alma mater in Massachusetts on how to lead the Christian church. The man was truly offensive, according to a bishop who wrote to VOL at that time. Later, following the lecture, then Bishop of Vermont, Adelia MacLeod, dragged the speaker to the altar rail for communion.

The bishop wrote, “Others, the sicker kind, had a sick need to make up with this offensive person and actually forced him to receive Holy Communion, one dragging him on either side, managing to violate his integrity and the integrity of his religion and ours. The perpetrators were women who did not care that he was clearly not in love and charity with his neighbor and who see the sacrament as nothing more than ‘hospitality’.”

There was no apology for his behavior, no apology for the violation of the sacrament and we went on, he wrote. My story on this and other behaviors of Frank Griswold “GRISWOLD AGONISTES” appears here: (http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3367).

A decade later, CWOB is now more blatant than ever and publicly obvious. St. Mark’s in Washington, DC, describes itself on a billboard as The Church of the Open Communion – “wherever you are on your faith journey, whatever you believe or don’t believe, baptized or not, we welcome you to join us.” http://www.stmarks.net/who-we-are/about-us/about-st-marks/

Today with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink, liberal Episcopal parishes pay lip service to baptism as a pre requisite for taking Holy Communion. In The Episcopal Church, all baptized Christians-no matter age or denomination-are welcome to “receive communion. Episcopalians invite all baptized people to receive, not because we take the Eucharist lightly, but because we take our baptism so seriously. Visitors who are not baptized Christians are welcome to come forward during the Communion to receive a blessing from the presider. Nowhere is communion offered to an unbaptized person.

Episcopal Church Canon I.17.7 however, is unambiguous. It states: “No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.”

But The Episcopal Church flouts canon law on a number of issues especially and including sexuality. CWOB is just one more issue where canon law and ecclesiastical polity have been tossed out the window.

In a video put out by the Episcopal Church, The Rev. Paul Lane of St. Paul’s, Chicago, says that “everyone is welcome to eat at this table…” no mention is made of baptism as a prerequisite for partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

The video mixes worship styles in a changing culture with strong emphasis on diverse contexts. “The community is gathered around the altar. Everyone is welcome to eat at God’s table…the table is wide open. [We] welcome everyone to the table without exception,” states Lane.

In reconfiguring the church to meet the growing diversity in the Chicago neighborhood, Lane determined the cross to be offensive. “The cross is non welcoming to non-Christians so it was put at the back of the church.”

St. Jude, Wantagh, NY, is also featured by The Episcopal Church as being a healthy Episcopal congregation under the rubric, “Transforming Churches, Changing the World”. The church bills itself as “a welcoming community of faith, embracing and serving all of God’s children regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability or socio-economic condition.” No distinctions of behavioral practice are mentioned.

A study released in 2005 by the Diocese of Northern California estimated that a majority of dioceses have congregations that practice CWOB. Of the church’s 110 dioceses, 48 responded to the Northern California survey. 24 reported they had parishes that practice CWOB while a seven dioceses were reported to “probably allow CWOB.”

The dumbing down of doctrine to make the church more acceptable to non-Christians might have short term gains. In the long run, however it will fail. The church is supposed to be a counter culture to the world’s values. TEC’s attempt to downplay its exclusive character will only make it indistinguishable from the world.

People who have not confessed Christ as personal Savior and Lord remain in bondage to sin and therefore, in the words of St. Paul, “anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Cor. 11:29) – NIV

The Rt. Rev. Dr. John Rodgers in his new book Essential Truths for Christians, A Commentary on the 39 Articles wrote of Article 28 that “to participate in unbelief, or in any other unworthy manner, is to profane the sacrament, to dishonor God and to bring judgment upon oneself. Repentant faith is essential to a right use of the sacrament because the nature of Christ’s self-giving is personal and because the Lord’s Supper is for sinner who receive unmerited grace therein.

“Jesus speaks about the importance of humble, repentant faith in connection to worship. The Apostle Paul warns us that to profane the Sacrament will bring serious consequences. It is far better to judge oneself and partake of the sacrament only in a worthy manner, in repentance and faith, than to offend the Lord,” concluded Rodgers.

The Episcopal Church’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy will prove to be yet another nail in its coffin.

END

This article comes from VirtueOnline

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal

Lutheran World Federation Invites Pope to Help Plan Celebration of 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

December 21st, 2010 5 comments

No word yet if the Pope is going to invite the LWF to help him plan an ecumenically appropriate celebration of Luther’s excommunication….

From LUTHERAN WORLD INFORMATION

VATICAN City, Vatican/GENEVA, 16 December 2010 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan has invited Pope Benedict XVI to work together with the Lutheran communion in realizing an ecumenically accountable commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
“For us there is joy in the liberating power of the gospel proclaimed afresh by the reformers, and we will celebrate that,” said Younan in a message today, when he led a seven-member delegation in a private audience with the Pope. He underlined the need to recognize both the damaging aspects of the Reformation and ecumenical progress.
“But we cannot achieve this ecumenical accountability on our own, without your help. Thus we invite you to work together with us in preparing this anniversary, so that in 2017 we are closer to sharing in the Bread of Life than we are today.”
Greeting the LWF delegation, Pope Benedict expressed gratitude for “the many significant fruits produced” by decades of bilateral discussions between Lutherans and Roman Catholics, saying it had been possible “slowly and patiently to remove barriers and to foster visible bonds of unity by means of theological dialogue and practical cooperation, especially at the level of local communities.” In the years leading up to the next Reformation anniversary, “Catholics and Lutherans are called to reflect anew on where our journey towards unity has led us and to implore the Lord’s guidance and help for the future,” he said.
The Pope pointed out that the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ), whose tenth anniversary was marked in 2009, “has proved a significant step along the difficult path towards re-establishing full unity among Christians and a stimulus to further ecumenical discussion.”
He reiterated his expectation that the close contacts and intensive dialogue which have characterized ecumenical relations between Catholics and Lutherans would continue to bear rich fruit.
Representing every LWF region, the delegation included also the General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge and regional vice presidents from Africa, Presiding Bishop Alex G. Malasusa (Tanzania); from Central Eastern Europe, Bishop Tamás Fabiny (Hungary); and from the Nordic region, Presiding Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien (Norway); and staff. Also present was Kurt Cardinal Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), and other Vatican staff.
In his statement, Younan reiterated the LWF’s commitment to “moving closer toward one another around this Table of the Lord, which Luther saw as the summa evangelii.” The LWF president pointed out that while it was important to “rejoice in each small step which brings us closer together, we do not want to be content with these steps. We remain strong in hope – both for the full visible unity of Christ’s Church and for the Eucharistic communion which is so crucial a manifestation of that unity.”
Younan presented to the Pope a gift from Bethlehem, a carving depicting the Last Supper. Referring to this image, he said, “Each of us can bear witness to the importance of this sacramental meal in nurturing our own Christian lives. Each of us also knows the yearning for the time when we will be able to celebrate this feast together,” said the LWF president.
Younan noted that the LWF had taken a significant step toward Christian reconciliation at its July 2010 Eleventh Assembly in Stuttgart, Germany, by asking forgiveness from Mennonites for the persecution of Anabaptists in the 16th century. In preparing for this act, he said, the LWF was mindful that this legacy was shared by other traditions, including Roman Catholics, who with other ecumenical guests stood in solemn solidarity when the action was pronounced at the Assembly.
“We believe that we took this action on behalf of the whole body of Christ. We pray that this spirit of repentance, reconciliation and renewal will continue to grow among us.”
Younan, who is head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, noted that Catholics and Lutherans share a vision for just peace in the Middle East and support a two-state solution with a shared Jerusalem. He thanked the Pope for his moral leadership in exposing the injustices and idolatries of the global financial crisis – also a concern shared by the LWF, notably in its advocacy against illegitimate debt. On both issues, he urged closer collaboration.
“Our witness will be stronger if we will work together on these problems. Thus we look forward to forging multiple cooperations with our Catholic sisters and brothers at all levels, locally as well as globally,” Younan said.
The LWF president noted that he and the General Secretary represent the new leadership of the global Lutheran communion. Younan was elected President at Stuttgart in July, while Junge began his term of office in November.
The audience with the Pope honors the extraordinary journey by the two churches in recent years, and is a sign of hope for their future relations, Younan said.
Lutherans continue to rejoice, he added, because of the ways the two churches have reached new degrees of theological understanding and agreement, noting in particular the landmark Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.
“Within our own lifetimes, the climate of relations between Lutherans and Catholics has warmed dramatically – and this climate change has been for the good! Around the world our churches live in a new ecology of relationship.” Younan concluded. (915 words)

Additional texts are available at lutheranworld.org

Highly Bendable and Amusing Toys

November 27th, 2010 Comments off

The Skeleton of Reconciliation: A Very Honest Roman Catholic Assessment of Rome and Wittenberg in Light of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

November 1st, 2010 Comments off

I rarely read a truly honest and forthcoming assessment of what the Joint Statement on the Doctrine of Justification actually means and what it actually accomplished and achieved. The liberal Lutheran elements continue to point to the JDDJ as a “great breakthrough” when in fact, what they should say is that the JDDJ was a “great betrayal” of the Lutheran Reformation and the very Gospel itself. Here, in this fascinating blog post I found today at the First Things blog, a Roman Catholic priest carefully articulates why the JDDJ was not, in fact, any sort of reconciliation between Rome and Wittenberg. The most thorough and complete response to the JDDJ that dealt very honestly with its theological weaknesses and errors, came from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. You can read all about that here, in this post. I put this post at the bottom of this post, so you would have this all together.

“You are heretics, but it might not be your fault.” In decades and centuries past, that posture of exculpatory condescension often represented the most we could achieve in ecumenical reconciliation. We may not be able to agree on anything else, but we might concede that Christians today are not fully responsible for the divisions of the sixteenth century.

The 1999 “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,” issued by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church—both later joined by the Methodist World Council—took us a step beyond that minimal exculpation. The Declaration describes itself as achieving “a consensus on basic truths of the doctrine of justification” and a demonstration “that the remaining differences . . . are no longer the occasion for doctrinal condemnations.” Note the two principal achievements: a consensus, and the obviation of the Reformation-era condemnations.

I emphasize these two because the Catholic Church immediately in 1999 saw fit to qualify the Declaration’s self-understanding: The Church, represented by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, explained consensus as “a high degree of agreement,” but not the elimination of all divergences. The Church also reduced the obviation of the condemnations to a virtual tautology, saying that the condemnations no longer apply to matters of agreement, but they may yet “touch” points of divergence, especially the Lutheran formula simul iustus et peccator. If some Lutherans felt betrayed by the Church’s response to the Declaration, they may be forgiven.

But I do not want to engage in the treacherous ecumenism of those who denounce their own communions for the sake of dialogical agreement. The Church’s partial retraction is on its face true: We are not in full agreement, and disagreements over even tertiary elements of the doctrine of justification are at least potentially divisive.

It is said that no matter how many ecumenical documents we produce, if we lay them end to end, still they will never reach a conclusion, and the Catholic Church might seem to have confirmed this claim, but I’m optimistic: I think there is a way through the impasse—a way that does not require either communion to reject the virtues of its tradition. What we have here may be “a failure to communicate,” but it’s a failure that can be remedied.

The Declaration, perhaps succumbing to ecumenical dialogue’s characteristic vice of self-congratulation, credits its success to “our common way of listening to the word of God in Scripture,” and claims that such common listening led to new insights and developments that made the Declaration possible.

Maybe, but the reverse is equally plausible: that new insights and developments in our communions and among global cultures have led to a common appreciation for the meaning and import of Scripture, and therefore led also to the Declaration. Recent advances in hermeneutics, especially new insights into the way history and community shape our cognitive frameworks, helped both Lutherans and Catholics to approach their creedal and confessional trajectories with greater circumspection.

To put it crudely: The advent of postmodernism made this Declaration possible. Like a predator that consumes its own young, modernism—with its endless criticism upon criticism—has been cannibalizing the sophomoric rationalism of its own adherents.

In the English translation of his book on Christology, Cardinal Walter Kasper described historical-criticism, left to itself, as “an endless screw”—I imagine he was unaware of the double entendre in English—a endless screw that keeps threading deeper without changing anything, until the drillers recognize their futility. In just this way have many rationalists despaired of the Enlightenment. The decline of the modernist hegemony in academic and popular culture reduced the degree to which modernism threatened the Catholic Church, still somewhat shy about its pre-modern roots, and facilitated the Second Vatican Council’s new esteem for other expressions of the Christian faith.

At the same time, postmodern awareness of the limitations of reason have quieted the more virulent expressions of Lutheranism, born in a facile eagerness to overturn developed authority and discipline, and reaching pubescent frenzy in the wildly rationalistic biblical criticism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Christians of many communions manifest new interest in the pre-modern origins of the Christian faith, and we find new common ground in the tempered rationalism of the postmodern era. Postmodernism has sparked a new romance between estranged partners.

I’ve been painting with a very broad brush, so permit me to give two specific examples. One: In its response, the Catholic Church complained that the Declaration too easily conceded to the doctrine of justification a special status as the criterion of orthodoxy, whereas a genuinely Catholic approach requires integration of the doctrine of justification with the entire regula fidei—with Christology, Trinitarian theology, ecclesiology, and sacramental practice, among others.

While such a response served a purpose—it precluded certain misunderstandings within the Catholic communion—it missed the theological potential of the Declaration, which clearly sees all the truths of the faith as internally related to each other. All the divine mysteries implicitly embed each other—in fact, some representatives of the Eastern Churches rather frequently insist that all the faults of the Latin Church are easily attributable to the snowball effect of some small but ancient error in, say, Trinitarian theology.

If we Catholics recognize the circumincession of all the truths of faith, so that each one contains all the rest, we should warmly welcome those Lutherans who insist on the doctrine of justification as a synecdoche of the Gospel—for so it is, and to the extent we can reach agreement in matters of justification, we will also have reached agreement on the remainder of Christian doctrine. Thus an advance in epistemology—a recognition of the circumincession of divine truths—renders unnecessary any serious dispute about the doctrine of justification as the criterion for Christian teaching and practice.

Two: The Declaration takes up the question of human powerlessness, passivity, and cooperation in relation to justification, and observes that Catholics typically speak of graced co-operation with God’s grace, while Lutherans insist on human passivity and inability to merit justification. The Declaration invites speculation as to how Catholic and Lutheran anthropologies need not strictly contradict each other.

What Lutherans call “full personal involvement” in faith may perhaps embed what Catholics identify as active co-operation with grace—co-operation which is itself constituted by grace. When Catholics acknowledge that apart from grace, humans cannot move even ad iustitiam, which may be translated “toward justification,” they may concede that man, considered as an independent agent, is necessarily passive with respect to justification. These are not decisively reconciled teachings, but they may yet be reconcilable if we allow ourselves to think in terms of multiple layers of causality and effect. Once again, an allowance for nonparallel linguistic and philosophical frameworks may open up possibilities foreclosed by syllogistic, univocal readings of our theological formulae.

Those were my two examples, in evidence that the Declaration really did achieve a creditable degree of mutual recognition and agreement, aided by postmodern advances in epistemology. And therein lies the threat: If a new awareness of differentiated epistemologies makes it possible for us to accommodate serious differences between communions, that same awareness seems to invite all manner of dissent and relativism, in the name of postmodernism.

Because divisions internal to our communions are now as threatening as divisions between our communions, we dare not too glibly admit the legitimacy of other theological approaches. Such admissions may easily be exploited by relativists in a way that would further fragment our communions. I suspect that just such a fear lies behind many of the cautionary notes of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which does not want an accommodation of Lutheran doctrine to be invoked to justify a tidal wave of dissent within the Catholic Church. Yet, I think the skeleton of a genuine reconciliation has been assembled.

It remains to put flesh on that skeleton—to elaborate the implications of our “consensus” on the doctrine of justification for other elements of Christian faith and practice. I propose to you that the next logical step from justification is toward the atonement, a logical link between justification and the remaining elements of soteriology.

We share a common plight as Christians in a carelessly Pelagian world, where religion is routinely reduced to morality. Those of a secular mindset speak of the evolutionary utility of religion in taming man’s bestial appetites; those of a moralist bent telescope the Christian faith into the orthopraxis of social justice or sex. We desperately need to be reminded of the priority of grace offered through the Lord’s death and resurrection, and I hope that to cast ancient Christian doctrine of the atonement into contemporary and especially phenomenological terms may yet fuel just such a new evangelization.

Phenomenological considerations have shown potential to translate elements of pre-modern Christianity—such as metaphysical or natural law theory—into effective terms. In the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul’s Wednesday catecheses, from which what is now called the “Theology of the Body” emerged, achieved just such a translation. Our people and even our clergy might have much to gain from exploring our human experience of the proclamation of the Lord’s atoning death.

From my own stance as a Roman Catholic, I hope that ecumenical consensus on justification may lead to articulate agreement concerning the atonement, and hence also the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, and thus at last to what for Catholics is the Holy Grail of ecumenism—literally, the Holy Grail, the Eucharist—the fullest and most visible expression of the life and unity of the Church. Cardinal Walter Kasper, speaking on Christian unity, recently remarked that “our goal must be full communion within the communion of communions that is the Church.”

This requires shared Eucharist. May God bring to speedy fruition the good work he has begun in the Joint Declaration.

Rev. David Poecking is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. “The Skeleton of Genuine Reconciliation” was given as one of three papers delivered at a retrospective observance of the 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification sponsored by Bishop Kurt Kusserow of the Lutheran Synod of Southwestern Pennsylvania and Bishop Lawrence Brandt of the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, held yesterday (Reformation Sunday). The Joint Declaration can be found here.

Continue reading for a thorough summary of the confessional Lutheran response to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

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Leading Sheep Out of Danger is Not Sheep Stealing

September 27th, 2010 3 comments

“The Missouri Synod Lutheran cannot understand why a rightly called but heterodox pastor, one who is thus Lutheran in name only, is allowed to lead an entire congregation, even an entire generation of the flock that has been entrusted to his care, into heterodoxy or even apostasy, while the ecclesiastical authorities stand silently by or even maintain that the congregation is after all still Lutheran because the doctrine (publica doctrina) of the Lutheran Church still has official standing in it. Who can disagree with the Missouri Lutheran on this point? Who has the right to prevent the Gospel being preached to souls deceived by others?”

— Hermann Sasse

Confession and Theology in the Missouri Synod, (Letters to Lutheran Pastors No. 20, July 1951).

A Word of Rebuke and Warning to Liberal Protestant Churches

September 25th, 2010 Comments off

I always enjoy reading the accounts of how Christian leaders from conservative and more orthodox Christian churches “lay down the law” when speaking to Protestant liberalism that has gripped much of Western Christendom. Here is another example, by Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church, speaking to an Anglican gathering in England, at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s palace. But the remarks could easily have just as well been addressed to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

We are also extremely concerned and disappointed by other processes that are manifesting themselves in churches of the Anglican Communion. Some Protestant and Anglican churches have repudiated basic Christian moral values by giving a public blessing to same-sex unions and ordaining homosexuals as priests and bishops. Many Protestant and Anglican communities refuse to preach Christian moral values in secular society and prefer to adjust to worldly standards. Our Church must sever its relations with those churches and communities that trample on the principles of Christian ethics and traditional morals. Here we uphold a firm stand based on Holy Scripture. In 2003, the Russian Orthodox Church had to suspend contact with the Episcopal Church in the USA due to the fact that this Church consecrated a self-acclaimed homosexual … as bishop. The Department for External Church Relations made a special statement deploring this fact as anti-Christian and blasphemous. Moreover, the Holy Synod of our Church decided to suspend the work of the Joint Coordinating Committee for Cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Episcopal Church in the USA, which had worked very successfully for many years. The situation was aggravated when a woman bishop was installed as head of the Episcopal Church in the USA in 2006 and a lesbian was placed on the bishop’s chair of Los Angeles in 2010. Similar reasons were behind the rupture of our relations with the Church of Sweden in 2005 when this Church made a decision to bless same-sex “marriages”. And recently the lesbian Eva Brunne has become the “bishop” of Stockholm. What can these churches say to their faithful and to secular society? What kind of light do they shine upon the world (cf. Mt. 5:14)? What is their ‘salt’? I am afraid the words of Christ can be applied to them: If the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men (Mt. 5:13).

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations to the Annual Nicean Club Dinner (Lambeth Palace, 9 September 2010). The full text of his remarks follow in the extended entry. HT: Touchstone Magazine.

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