I am the most casual of amateur “Anglican watchers”… As a Catholic, looking at what is going on over in TEC causes me no glee, but honestly I see the writing on the wall. (Feel free to weigh in with disagreement – that is what comboxes are for!)
A Lutheran watcher, I am not at any level – amateur or otherwise. Recently, however, I am having a spell of being, I dunno “Lutheran Curious” as I see snippets here and there of things coming out of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) – America’s largest Lutheran body of just under 4.77M members, formed in 1988 with the merging of three Lutheran bodies, they are in full communion with the Episcopal Church.
Again, as a rank amature with no vested interest in the internal politics of this community myself (save a desire/fantasy – I admit – to see an end to the divisions and a return to Catholic unity on the part of all baptized).
But in the past few weeks of looking at some things that are coming out of some blogs and news sources here and there about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I have come up with the following questions:
- What trajectory has the ELCA taken on the GLBT issue? Today it appears they are about three to five years behind the Episcopal Church on the matter, with affirming clergy being lined up to shore up support of what seems to be an affirming stance that is coming…
- TEC and ELCA have an inter-communion and pulpit sharing arrangement… What influence has this had? Some speculate that this re-enforces and re-affirms the influences of pro-GLBT parties within the ELCA… The TEC and ELCA in 2008 both have more clergy than ever, as their memberships both decline. An observation that has been made by some is that in some diocese the TEC has rostered a good number of clergy who are not needed or used for parochial assignments, but serve – in effect – to “weight the strength of certain ideological agendas”… The ordinands have no or little parochial responsibility… but when it comes time to gather the rostered clergy to vote, they are votes that can be counted on. “Stacking the deck” so to speak. Is this a trend we have seen in the ELCA?
- Has clergy sharing had this influence or allowed for re-enforcements to be sent into ELCA synods from TEC for similar stacking?
- What trends have we seen with ELCA congregations re-aligning in other synods? (The number of re-aligning congregations seems to have increased each year since 2002.)
- Has the divisions between Lutheran bodies like WELS, Missouri Synod and the ELCA had an effect on how the situation in the ELCA has played out in these last ten years? That is to say at the time of formation of the ELCA, WELS & the Missouri Synod did not opt to join back in 1988… That being the case, is it already a de factosituation that folks who self-describe as conservative Lutherans are already pre-divided into other non-ELCA bodies allowing for smooth transitions into a female-minister dominated body that is traveling in a trajectory to be widely and openly affirming of pro-GLBT (Affirming of homogenital sex acts)?
- Continental Lutheranism (Germany and Scandinavia) has already gone the direction of the “mainline moderns”… African Lutheranism – like African Anglicanism – seems to be more rooted in concepts of “Protestant Orthodoxy” with the eschewing of women’s ordination and pro-homosexual theologies. Yet being that there is no “big tent Lutheran communion” analogous to what we see in Anglicanism with the world-wide communion and Lambeth, it would seem that neither Continental nor African bodies are in a position to exert pressures on the ELCA one way or another in the dramatic fashion that a global confrontation in The Anglican Communion has forced the hand of the TEC (in a fashion) to take a definative stand that (supposedly) will have an influence on TEC membership in the Anglican Communion. As of 2008, I am sceptical this is going to happen in a fashion as dramatic as some predict – 11th hour comprimises seem to be the standard in the history of confrontations that liberal and affirming clergy and communities always recieve in a slow – if somewhat recently accelerated – war of attrition. They always win.) Has this lack of a sense of world communion been a factor in the directions the ELCA has taken and will take?
- In the past few years we have seen well over 25 clergy and notable theologians from American Lutheranism embrace the Catholic Faith. Has this exodus hindered movements within the ELCA to ?
Worth looking at:
LUTHERAN CHURCH MISSOURI SYNOD BLASTS ELCA OVER GAY STANCE
Statement regarding 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly Action
by Gerald B. Kieschnick Read the rest of this entry »