Saturday, August 29, 2009

For this Crisis: Lutherans Persisting

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Lutherans Persisting, which joined the blogosphere on Thursday and is already a new addition to my "Blogs for Faithful Churchmen." That's because the principal writer (at least initially) is Prof. Michael Root, a fine lay theologian who was until recently Dean at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (IMHO the most orthodox of the ELCA's eight seminaries) and who've I've gotten to know personally through the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. Here's Dr. Root's introduction:
“They persisted in the teaching and communion of the apostles” (Acts 2:42). What does it mean here and now for those who claim the heritage of the Lutheran Reformation to persist in the apostles’ teaching and communion? After the recent decisions of the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, that question has become pressing. Those who contribute to this blog believe that those decisions are flawed and that those flaws are deeply rooted in theological tendencies that have been present within Lutheranism for decades. They will not be rectified soon. Persistence and faithfulness is our intention; that intention can be met only in the mercy and power of the Spirit of Christ. Where the Spirit will lead, we do not know.

Michael Root will have oversight of this blog. David Yeago will contribute as the Spirit moves him. Others may join us. While those who write here share a common outlook, all contributors write only in their own names and do not speak for the others.
Dr. Root's first post identifies four "aspects" to the present crisis in the ELCA:
  • "[T]he decisions to permit same-sex blessings and to permit ordinations of persons in such same-sex relations will lead many individuals and congregations to contemplate leaving the ELCA."

  • The teachings of the statements adopted by the Churchwide Assembly "are more than just mistakes, policies and ideas with which we disagree. They are false teaching, teaching that directly contradicts the clear command of Scripture and the authoritative tradition of the church. The ELCA is now not just a pilgrim church, an imperfect church on the way, but an erring church, a church which has, in an important part of its life, lost its way."

  • "[T]he way tendencies present in Lutheranism since the early 20th century are now coming to a head. One reason false teaching has captured the ELCA is that various views (a crude and static understanding of simul justus et peccator, a confusion between paradox and ambiguity, bad understandings of biblical authority) have come to be accepted as authentically Lutheran, even as defining Lutheranism. ... (What I worry about at 2 AM when I cannot sleep is that what we have come to think of as 'Lutheran' actually is Lutheran, in which case the Reformation was just wrong.)"

  • The theological affirmation by the Assembly "that opposing 'bound consciences' can stymie consistent church teaching or that no disagreement on ethics can divide the church (unless one side of the ethical disagreement is inconsistent with the doctrine of justification)."
Strong words. Heady stuff, perhaps. But then a Lutheran church ought to be engaging in heady stuff with strong words, no? It's what we (used to) do. It's what the rest of the Church, no, the world expects from us.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Steven. Y'all are now in statu confessionis. May God help you. Amen.

davenu said...

I have had the pleasure of being a student of Prof. Root. I am also glad that he, like many others, has decided to speak very openly and publicly on these issues.