Monday, August 17, 2009

Who needs the Bible when you have "The Spirit"?!

Yet another denomination finds itself on the precipice of abandoning all semblance of the faith.

From the Washington Times (emphasis added)

America's largest Lutheran denomination has reached its crossroads on homosexuality and allowing openly gay clergy, with crucial votes slated at its biennial assembly this week in Minneapolis that participants say are too close to call.

"We recognize we're in for some long conversation this week," said Virginia Synod Bishop James F. Mauney, who oversees 42,000 members in 163 churches across the state. "I am hopeful that our worship will guide our conversation and we will be guided by the Holy Spirit."

The gathering of 65 synods representing the 4.6-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America mirrors a denomination split over homosexuality.

Only celibate gay clergy can serve in ELCA churches. A small majority - 54 percent - of ELCA clergy support gay ordination, according to a Clergy Voices survey conducted in May and posted recently on the denomination's Web site.

Let's look at that and notice what is missing from Mr. Mauney's quote: the Word of God. You can make a case for a lot of things by following your heart and arguing from anything and everything but the Word of God. See, I sort of think that the Word and the Spirit are meant to be used together. Spirit-less study of the Word leads to vain academics, seeking the Spirit apart from the Word leads to all manner of mischief, heresy and damnation.

I am all for seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. What worries me is when we seek the guidance of the Spirit divorced from the Scriptures. That is a recipe for making a decision relying on your own wisdom and chalking it up to "the prompting of the Holy Spirit". About the last thing in the world I trust is my own heart, for I know all too well how deceitful my heart is (Jer 17:9) and how easily I can convince myself of things that are contrary to the Word of God. I hope someone has the courage to stand up during these meetings, open the Bible and declare the wisdom of God in contrast to the wisdom of man.


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8 comments:

Jeremy Lee said...

A Lutheran (Missouri Synod) pastor told me that the entire name of the ELCA is a lie because they are not evangelical, lutheran, or a church (I guess they are in America, though).

These modern day Lutherans are outdoing the Anabaptists whom Luther despised because of their belief in new prophetic revelations.

This story is becoming all too common. The Anglicans and the PCUSA are both struggling over homosexuality. The pressure is going to be even more intense on conservatives to compromise. I pray God gives us grace to stand firm until the end.

Steve Martin said...

What these 60's liberals that have hijacked a great faith tradition do not understand is that the Holy Spirit does NOT act in contradiction to the Holy Word of God.

The Bible says it quite clearly that homosexuality is a sin.

Our ELCA congregation will be trying to figure out a way to disassociate ourselves from these hijackers and continue to be faithful in proclaiming BOTH God's law and His gospel.

Arthur Sido said...

Jeremy,

I would have one minor quibble. Certainly some Anabaptist believed in new revelation but it was a widespread movement and that was not (I don't believe) the majority report outside of the Zwickau prophets and Muenster. In fact, in places like the nature of the church and in the church as being free from statism, I would find myself in agreement more with the Anabaptists than Luther.

Jeremy Lee said...

No need to quibble. I do not know much about the Anabaptists. I do know that Luther disliked them terribly and some of his disdain was because of a belief in new prophetic revelations, which seems like what these modern Lutherans are suggesting. Anyway, thanks for the clarification.

Steve Martin said...

The ELCA poo-bahs are wrong, and the Anabaptists are wrong.

Scripture matters. The Holy Spirit does not contradict the clear teaching of Scripture.

Arthur Sido said...

Jeremy,

Part of what Luther disliked was indeed some of the excesses by some of the anabaptists, but a lot of the hostility toward the anabaptists on the part of the magisterial reformers was their belief in believers baptism. You and I would be in danger of being martyred by many of the reformation era churches for our adherence to Biblical baptism. The number of anabaptists martyred for their belief in believers baptism by reformers is pretty incredible.

They also were disliked for insisting on a clear delineation between the church and the state. They certainly had their flaws, as did Luther and Calvin and all of the Reformers but there is much we can learn from them just as there is much we can learn from Calvin and company. I have been trying to read up on them to form my own opinion of where there were right and where they were wrong.

Arthur Sido said...

Steve,

What have you read by any Anabaptist writers? Not just what others have written about them, but either by them or by more sympathetic chroniclers?

Steve Martin said...

Arthur,

I can't remember the different Anabaptists that I have read. It has been a long time.

I do remember their disdain for infant baptism. Their desire to re-baptize people thereby denying that God is present in baptism at all (even though God commanded it).

I remember their fondness of man's "free will", which is also contrary to scripture.

I remember that they also do not believe that God is present in the Sacrament of the Altar (even though God commanded that, also).

They are not God centered, but rather man centered. They are all about your will, your seriousness, your efforts. Notice I saif "your".
People that are focused on religious performance never seem to be too concerned about themselves...but the focus almost always seem to fall on the other guy.

Their theology is one of self ascendenct, no matter how much they'll deny it, and it breeds legalism and a false faith in 'faith', rather than in God (and His work for sinners).

Anabaptist theology leaves me cold.