Author Topic: The Virus Keeps Spreading  (Read 6133 times)

Terry W Culler

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #30 on: October 07, 2010, 04:52:52 PM »
no spies Rob.  It's something I've wrestled with quite a bit over the years and it's only fairly recently that I've come to a place where I'm pretty certain about this.
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Dan Fienen

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #31 on: October 07, 2010, 08:21:29 PM »
Small Catechism, Third Petition: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
What does this mean? The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also."

God's will will be done with or without us, or even despite us, but we pray that it may be done among us also - that we may be a part of it.  Can God forgive me if I hinder His will being done?  Thank God, yes!  I'm sure that sinful creature that I am, He sometimes has to work around me and that at times I work against His will either out of ignorance or willfully as my Old Adam acts up.  Does God love me more, do I earn brownie points when I act in ways that further His will?  He died for me, how could He love me more?!?  :)  I get to go to heaven, what greater blessing could I ask?  So will I want to act in ways that support and advance His will being done?  Yes.  Why?  Out of love for God I want to serve Him and He is willing to accept my poor offerings of time, talent, treasure, and effort and use them in building His kingdom.  (Think of a six year old "helping" mother in the kitchen - love expressed in helping, love expressed in accepting the "help" that often actually helps little.)

I want to help God, not that I don't realize in my better moments that He can easily do without my help and that I earn nothing that God does not already give, but I want to help God because He graciously asks for my help and allows me to "gift" Him that help, poor offering that it is.

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George Erdner

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #32 on: October 07, 2010, 09:50:01 PM »
I want to help God, not that I don't realize in my better moments that He can easily do without my help and that I earn nothing that God does not already give, but I want to help God because He graciously asks for my help and allows me to "gift" Him that help, poor offering that it is.

Dan

What I am having trouble understanding is not the concept of doing God's will as an offering to God, poor though it may be. I'm asking about those situations where doing God's will isn't a clear and obvious thing. Is it God's will to stay in the ELCA and work from within to attempt to restore that body to faithfulness, or is it God's will to persuade others to join me in leaving the ELCA for a Lutheran church body that hasn't sacrificed the clear word of scripture on the altar of contemporary social pressure?

All the generic rehashes of good, general purpose theology are fine, but in this current, very specific situation, the generalities aren't very helpful.

kls

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2010, 10:21:12 PM »
Is it God's will to stay in the ELCA and work from within to attempt to restore that body to faithfulness, or is it God's will to persuade others to join me in leaving the ELCA for a Lutheran church body that hasn't sacrificed the clear word of scripture on the altar of contemporary social pressure?

All the generic rehashes of good, general purpose theology are fine, but in this current, very specific situation, the generalities aren't very helpful.

George,

Do you in your heart of hearts believe that an entire church body can be restored to its previous faithfulness?  It would be nice to hear from a historian type if this has ever before been accomplished within ANY church body in history once it's gone south.  I've been in a pretty good ELCA church and in some not-so-good LCMS churches (by my own sinful human judgments).  The ELCA church had a wonderful, mostly faithful pastor (with the exception of the historicity of the Bible issue), and the LCMS churches weren’t mission-minded enough for me, were too law-based, etc.  You know how we tend to judge how a church “feels” . . . I was as guilty of that as the next person.

What God has brought me to focus on are the lonely, lost and least.  When we focus so much on church politics, constant bickering on theological issues, etc., Satan wins and these people in need of hearing the Gospel lose out.  I know some would quote Luther here (loosely, mind you):  “Stay until they kick you out.”

I think ultimately God will make it abundantly clear to you where He wants you.  A Christian needs to rest in Him and find that peace that surpasses all understanding in order to be refreshed and restored for the greater battle that is occurring all around us . . . the spiritual one.  Satan rejoices when the church is so distracted by all these battles from within that we lose sight of those who need to hear about Jesus.

I obviously don’t know what’s happening in your current congregation, but if the teachings/preaching aren’t on par with Lutheranism as you see it, would it hurt to get out and visit a few other churches in your area?  You’ll know when you’re home when you experience it!  Just my two cents for what it’s worth . . .  I will continue to pray for those trying to make these tough decisions.  When I crossed over to Missouri, it was mostly based on the abortion issue.  How it has gone south from that issue is beyond belief, but then again, I maintain that a church who cannot value and respect the least of these (babies in the womb are the most vulnerable of all human beings), it’s not long before they disrespect and even despise God’s teaching on all other issues.  I submit that we’re all witnessing this in the ELCA, and the slope will only get more slippery.

George Erdner

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2010, 11:34:50 PM »
Is it God's will to stay in the ELCA and work from within to attempt to restore that body to faithfulness, or is it God's will to persuade others to join me in leaving the ELCA for a Lutheran church body that hasn't sacrificed the clear word of scripture on the altar of contemporary social pressure?

All the generic rehashes of good, general purpose theology are fine, but in this current, very specific situation, the generalities aren't very helpful.

George,

Do you in your heart of hearts believe that an entire church body can be restored to its previous faithfulness? 

Not really. I mean, I believe it could happen. I just don't believe that it will happen. I believe that with God, anything is possible. But I also think that the people in the ELCA who have drunk the Kool-Aid will probably be returned to faithfulness by changing their hearts and minds (which I believe the Holy Spirit can and will do), and by transferring their membership affiliations away from the unfaithful church body. I don't discount the possibility that there might be a "believer's backlash" that will see Hanson replaced when his term of office is up, but I fear too many of the traditionalists will have left the ELCA by then for there to be enough to get him out.

I obviously don't know what's happening in your current congregation, but if the teachings/preaching aren't on par with Lutheranism as you see it, would it hurt to get out and visit a few other churches in your area?  You'll know when you're home when you experience it!  Just my two cents for what it's worth . . .  I will continue to pray for those trying to make these tough decisions. 


As I've said before, at my current church the Gospel is rightly preached and the sacraments are properly administered. Our involvement with the ELCA is minimal at best. The truth be told, if we could transfer to the NALC or LCMC with nothing but a Church Council vote, I doubt if more than a handful of members would even notice. But, if the matter were brought to a congregational vote, I fear it might tear the congregation apart.

Which puts me in a difficult position. When (and if) our current pastor accepts a call elsewhere (and that's normal course of events for most pastors), then the issue of whether or not we'll consider a homosexual in a pseudo-marriage if the Bishop's staff sends us such a candidate. Given that we're in the same synod as Brad Schmeling, I'm not sure what to expect from Bishop Gordy. At that time, the issue could suddenly become important, and we'll be caught unprepared. Or, if Augsburg Fortress comes out with a new Sunday School curriculum that includes teachings that, "Heather has two mommies, and that's OK". Or if a homosexual couple wants to use our church for a pseudo-marriage. That's why I'd like to get the congregation to join CORE and go on record as picking which of the various optional teachings our conscience will be bound to in advance, before we're forced to by circumstances.

As for visiting other Lutheran Churches, the only ones in close enough geographic proximity to me are all ELCA except for one LC-MS and one in the Church of the Lutheran Confession, which appears to be a more conservative offshoot of the WELS. Considering that my pastor has never said anything from the pulpit in support of the 2009 CWA decisions, nor anything that wasn't orthodox Lutheran Christianity, my only objection to remaining in my present congregation is that by doing so, it means I'm technically a member of the ELCA. I am prayerfully consider declining to run for re-election to church council when my term is up, resigning my membership, and continuing to attend services as a visitor.

My wife and I were "visitors" for almost a year before we became formal members, and we still were active in the life of the congregation. If I revert to being a "visitor", I can still continue to play guitar for worship services when needed, and continue to help in the kitchen whenever needed, and otherwise participate in church life. Best of all, I'll no longer be part of the ELCA.

Charles_Austin

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #35 on: October 08, 2010, 06:36:34 AM »
Mr. Erdner writes (re resigning from his congregation, but still participating):
Best of all, I'll no longer be part of the ELCA.

I muse:
But you will. Suppose people actually join the church 'cause they like your guitar-playing? And suppose they tithe to the congregation and the ELCA? You, of course, remain "pure," but your actions contribute to the mission of the ELCA, for which (if this should happen,) thanks.

James Gustafson

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #36 on: October 08, 2010, 08:02:58 AM »
Mr. Erdner writes (re resigning from his congregation, but still participating):
Best of all, I'll no longer be part of the ELCA.

I muse:
But you will. Suppose people actually join the church 'cause they like your guitar-playing? And suppose they tithe to the congregation and the ELCA? You, of course, remain "pure," but your actions contribute to the mission of the ELCA, for which (if this should happen,) thanks.

That's exactly right, Pr. Austin.  An association, or participation, with the ELCA or an ELCA congregation supports the ELCA and all it does and is, even attending the events that oppose but do not intend to end their affiliation.  That's why Paul said:  1 Corinthians 5:11, But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

On the other hand, attending a ELCA congregation just long enough to vote to leave the ELCA could perhaps be argued to not support the ELCA...  :-\

Terry W Culler

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #37 on: October 08, 2010, 08:36:27 AM »
George: If you believe the ELCA is worth saving and if you have a sense that God is calling you to be part of that process, then you should stay.  But you will pay a price for staying, you will be picking up your cross to follow Jesus.  As more and more orthodox Lutherans leave the ELCA you will find yourself more and more alone and the votes in the CWA will no longer be seriously contested.  RC's can be part of the same church body with people with whom they very seriously disagree because they have something powerful they all cling to--the papacy.  Lutherans have no such thing--we have the Bible and doctrine.  It's hard to be in fellowship with those who denounce the teachings of Scripture and create heretofore unknown doctrine.  But there are others struggling in the same situation.

BTW, try the LCMS congregation.  You might be pleasantly surprised by how very kind they will be to you.
"No particular Church has ... a right to existence, except as it believes itself the most perfect from of Christianity, the form which of right, should and will be universal."
Charles Porterfield Krauth

George Erdner

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #38 on: October 08, 2010, 09:43:11 AM »
George: If you believe the ELCA is worth saving and if you have a sense that God is calling you to be part of that process, then you should stay.  But you will pay a price for staying, you will be picking up your cross to follow Jesus.  As more and more orthodox Lutherans leave the ELCA you will find yourself more and more alone and the votes in the CWA will no longer be seriously contested.  RC's can be part of the same church body with people with whom they very seriously disagree because they have something powerful they all cling to--the papacy.  Lutherans have no such thing--we have the Bible and doctrine.  It's hard to be in fellowship with those who denounce the teachings of Scripture and create heretofore unknown doctrine.  But there are others struggling in the same situation.

BTW, try the LCMS congregation.  You might be pleasantly surprised by how very kind they will be to you.

I do not believe that any man-made voluntary association of congregations and people is "worth saving". I only believe that the people in it are worth saving. That usually means transferring to a different man-made voluntary association of congregations and people. Man-made voluntary associations of congregations and people come and go, they merge, they divide, they are transient things within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, or at least in the Lutheran faith tradition that's part of it. I regard myself as "within fellowship" with all Baptized members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, so I'm not worried about any further relations of fellowship beyond that.

And, I did worship at the local LC-MS church recently. The people there were very kind to me, and to my wife. But I do not wish to exchange one set of serious disagreements for a different set of disagreements.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2010, 09:47:42 AM by George Erdner »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #39 on: October 08, 2010, 11:57:40 AM »
Is it God's will to stay in the ELCA and work from within to attempt to restore that body to faithfulness, or is it God's will to persuade others to join me in leaving the ELCA for a Lutheran church body that hasn't sacrificed the clear word of scripture on the altar of contemporary social pressure?

All the generic rehashes of good, general purpose theology are fine, but in this current, very specific situation, the generalities aren't very helpful.

George,

Do you in your heart of hearts believe that an entire church body can be restored to its previous faithfulness? 

Not really. I mean, I believe it could happen. I just don't believe that it will happen. I believe that with God, anything is possible. But I also think that the people in the ELCA who have drunk the Kool-Aid will probably be returned to faithfulness by changing their hearts and minds (which I believe the Holy Spirit can and will do), and by transferring their membership affiliations away from the unfaithful church body. I don't discount the possibility that there might be a "believer's backlash" that will see Hanson replaced when his term of office is up, but I fear too many of the traditionalists will have left the ELCA by then for there to be enough to get him out.

I agree with you that with God anything is possible. I expect that over time, God will be changing the hearts and minds of the traditionalists concerning their homosexual brother and sisters in the faith -- especially when they are close relatives.

I base this prediction on the movement I see being made in many denominations towards greater openness to homosexuals, and a greater openness by society. It's been stated before and informal polls seem to confirm the idea that a majority of our children and grandchildren have little or no problems with homosexuals and support allowing them to have marriage-like relationships and benefits. Perhaps 50 years from now, those denominations that continue to forbid full inclusion of homosexuals will be seen as just as old fashioned as the Amish driving their buggies down the street.
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

James Gustafson

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #40 on: October 08, 2010, 12:12:49 PM »
I agree with you that with God anything is possible. I expect that over time, God will be changing the hearts and minds of the traditionalists concerning their homosexual brother and sisters in the faith -- especially when they are close relatives.


Very possible, even Solomon in all his greatness was not able to guard himself from the influence of his relatives (in this case one of his wives), but of course in Solomon's case it is seen as the downfall of his greatness.

I base this prediction on the movement I see being made in many denominations towards greater openness to homosexuals, and a greater openness by society. It's been stated before and informal polls seem to confirm the idea that a majority of our children and grandchildren have little or no problems with homosexuals and support allowing them to have marriage-like relationships and benefits. Perhaps 50 years from now, those denominations that continue to forbid full inclusion of homosexuals will be seen as just as old fashioned as the Amish driving their buggies down the street.

And in the same way that the worship of Baal covered all of Israel and only Elijah stood against them all.  Following God's ways is not a popularity contest, it's clearly warned against in scripture, Elijah was labeled as old fashioned too I believe.



(It's just too funny today, ever since reading the Onion piece about historians confessing to having made up Ancient Greece, I came here and it seems like the silly propositions keep popping up  ;)  )

Pilgrim

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #41 on: October 08, 2010, 12:16:55 PM »

I agree with you that with God anything is possible. I expect that over time, God will be changing the hearts and minds of the traditionalists concerning their homosexual brother and sisters in the faith -- especially when they are close relatives.

I base this prediction on the movement I see being made in many denominations towards greater openness to homosexuals, and a greater openness by society. It's been stated before and informal polls seem to confirm the idea that a majority of our children and grandchildren have little or no problems with homosexuals and support allowing them to have marriage-like relationships and benefits. Perhaps 50 years from now, those denominations that continue to forbid full inclusion of homosexuals will be seen as just as old fashioned as the Amish driving their buggies down the street.

Tim Christ simply wonders: I can't help but suspect the same sort of thinking was at work among the comfortable ruling folks in the Greco-Roman world when they encounterd those people of "The Way" who apparently were willing to chose martyrdom over acquiesenice and accomodation to the culture trends of their. Those who fail to learn history, or apparently, who fail to take it seriously, are condemned to repeat it. Instead of accomodating to the brokenness of humanioty, why not try lifting up God's intention for humanity. That's what Jesus did, i.e., "Have you not read that in the beginning God made them male and female," etc.
Pr. Tim Christ, STS

pbnorth3

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #42 on: October 08, 2010, 12:41:43 PM »
George: If you believe the ELCA is worth saving and if you have a sense that God is calling you to be part of that process, then you should stay.  But you will pay a price for staying, you will be picking up your cross to follow Jesus.  As more and more orthodox Lutherans leave the ELCA you will find yourself more and more alone and the votes in the CWA will no longer be seriously contested.  RC's can be part of the same church body with people with whom they very seriously disagree because they have something powerful they all cling to--the papacy.  Lutherans have no such thing--we have the Bible and doctrine.  It's hard to be in fellowship with those who denounce the teachings of Scripture and create heretofore unknown doctrine.  But there are others struggling in the same situation.

BTW, try the LCMS congregation.  You might be pleasantly surprised by how very kind they will be to you.

This bolded point is worth saying more about. I am not speaking of George, but making a general statement that is also a true statement. Those who insist upon staying in the ELCA, who know that what the ELCA has done is wrong, will inevitable give into the errors of that body. The spirit of deception falls, a veil drops, and they don't see clearly anymore what all the fuss is about. They continue to remain in this error ridden body, and something else will happen. Those who claim to be orthodox, because they have already attached themselves to the error ridden body, will only draw another line in the sand and say, "Alright, this is the last line. If you cross this then we'll really do something." That is the spirit of deception though, and they will inevitable give in and move along with the errors, while patting themselves on the back that they at least said that error is error.

In short, to stay means accepting error that does in fact have to do with salvation, and it therefore means allowing the spirit of deception to rule life. When that happens, more of life comes under its dominion, and eventually those who stay will start to think that maybe God is okay with all this anyway.

Something to think about anyway.

Peace in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Rob Buechler

Terry W Culler

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #43 on: October 08, 2010, 03:08:26 PM »
I hate to quibble with my friend Rob, but the price I meant would be paid for staying was more along the lines of isolation, subtle or not so subtle attacks, name calling, etc.  Certainly some, maybe even most, who stay will give in to the siren call of go-along.  But others could very well be strong enough to withstand that.  And those are the ones I was referring to.
"No particular Church has ... a right to existence, except as it believes itself the most perfect from of Christianity, the form which of right, should and will be universal."
Charles Porterfield Krauth

pbnorth3

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Re: The Virus Keeps Spreading
« Reply #44 on: October 08, 2010, 04:23:14 PM »
I hate to quibble with my friend Rob, but the price I meant would be paid for staying was more along the lines of isolation, subtle or not so subtle attacks, name calling, etc.  Certainly some, maybe even most, who stay will give in to the siren call of go-along.  But others could very well be strong enough to withstand that.  And those are the ones I was referring to.

Hey, by all means Terry. Quibble away brother, for. I understand what you are saying, although I think those who want to remain must remember that there is in fact a Satanic element involved here that many are not ready to accept. There may be those strong enough to withstand the "siren song," however I don't believe that there are too many who will be able to do this. In the long run, I believe that the Deceiver will bring that deception to those who stay and will lull them to sleep until the "next thing." Once a habit of "giving in" begins it is a real bugger to get rid of and most will give in the next time, etc. So the price you are talking about is real and true. However there is another price people will pay which goes even deeper if they continue to stay in the ELCA. This is a virus that can lead to death in more ways than one.

Peace in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Rob Buechler