Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk becomes a Lutheran

Michael Spencer ran the blog Internet Monk, which became an important forum for Christians struggling with a whole range of issues in the evangelical world.  Spencer, a Baptist, found lots of help in Lutheran theology, especially in its understanding of the Gospel.  Spencer died of cancer not too long ago.  His blog, though, continues under his successor who goes by the handle “Chaplain Mike.”

Chaplain Mike has just announced that he has taken the step of becoming a Lutheran.

He has started a series of posts explaining how he sees Lutheranism as uniquely addressing the concerns of “post-evangelical” Christians.  Here is the conclusion of his long post, which surveys aspects of contemporary  evangelicalism that he has been struggling with:

 Let me say, by way of concluding this overview, that I have been thrilled with what I have learned and experienced in the Lutheran tradition with regard to these three areas.

The Word and Table liturgy of the Lutheran church, rooted in the historic tradition of the church rather than the revivalist movement, restores the priority of worship in the local congregation.

Pastors are not CEO’s or program directors in the Lutheran church as they have become in much of evangelicalism. Rather, they represent Christ in distributing the means of grace through Word and Sacrament. Preaching is embedded in the liturgy so that worship does not revolve around the charisma of the preacher, but the Word Himself who meets us in the gathering of his people. Pastoral care and catechizing the congregation are essential components of his or her work.

The doctrine of vocation is one of the gifts the Lutheran tradition has given to the larger Church. Luther, himself a monk, came to appreciate the priesthood of all believers and the integrity of every calling, “sacred” or “secular,” as a means of showing Christ’s love to the world.

This is just a start in showing how the Lutheran tradition has answered some of my concerns with the system of evangelicalism dominant in America today.

More to come.

via How the Lutheran Tradition Answers Many Post-Evangelical Concerns (1) | internetmonk.com#comment-613544.

HT:  Rod Rosenbladt

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    I’m happy he has become a Lutheran.

    I wish he had chosen a more centerist Lutheran denomination, though.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    I’m happy he has become a Lutheran.

    I wish he had chosen a more centerist Lutheran denomination, though.

  • SKPeterson

    Which denomination is he a part of? I didn’t see that mentioned in the article as linked. Perhaps it was in a previous post?

  • SKPeterson

    Which denomination is he a part of? I didn’t see that mentioned in the article as linked. Perhaps it was in a previous post?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    ELCA

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    ELCA

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Judging by his influences, I am guessing LCMS.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Judging by his influences, I am guessing LCMS.

  • Jonathan

    He’s in the ELCA.

  • Jonathan

    He’s in the ELCA.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    “… I have decided that I will begin the process of seeking official ordination in the ELCA. I was ordained by our local Community Church congregation many years ago, but now I will seek a full denominational affiliation, and ask God to continue to lead us to further ministry in the years to come.”

    from Chaplain Mike’s post on Nov. 13th

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    “… I have decided that I will begin the process of seeking official ordination in the ELCA. I was ordained by our local Community Church congregation many years ago, but now I will seek a full denominational affiliation, and ask God to continue to lead us to further ministry in the years to come.”

    from Chaplain Mike’s post on Nov. 13th

  • Dennis Peskey

    The original announcement occurred on November 4 where he stated he had joined the ELCA. The LC-MS holds to some biblical positions which he, at this moment, can not accept; to wit, the ELCA offers a wider variety of biblical interpretations.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    The original announcement occurred on November 4 where he stated he had joined the ELCA. The LC-MS holds to some biblical positions which he, at this moment, can not accept; to wit, the ELCA offers a wider variety of biblical interpretations.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • –helen

    He’s not quite Lutheran yet, but he can be almost anything, in “pulpit and altar fellowship with elca.”
    Perhaps he’ll figure that out…..

  • –helen

    He’s not quite Lutheran yet, but he can be almost anything, in “pulpit and altar fellowship with elca.”
    Perhaps he’ll figure that out…..

  • SKPeterson

    That’s a perfect example of jumping from the frying pan into the fire! :)

  • SKPeterson

    That’s a perfect example of jumping from the frying pan into the fire! :)

  • Jonathan

    Chap Mike doesn’t protest the ordination of women pastors and does not insist on a literal reading of Genesis 1, i.e., that creation took place over 6 solar days. The LCMS, WELS, wouldn’t take such a man, would they?

  • Jonathan

    Chap Mike doesn’t protest the ordination of women pastors and does not insist on a literal reading of Genesis 1, i.e., that creation took place over 6 solar days. The LCMS, WELS, wouldn’t take such a man, would they?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Like I have said here before, there is a middle ground in Lutheranism, but he has chosen to go to the left.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Like I have said here before, there is a middle ground in Lutheranism, but he has chosen to go to the left.

  • Jonathan

    Steve, I dare you to take that comment to his blog.

  • Jonathan

    Steve, I dare you to take that comment to his blog.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    That wouldn’t be a problem. I have said many things like that over there, just in the last few weeks.

    There is a time and a place for things, though, and I don’t the timing would be helpful at this point.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    That wouldn’t be a problem. I have said many things like that over there, just in the last few weeks.

    There is a time and a place for things, though, and I don’t the timing would be helpful at this point.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    ELCA? Now, I am sad.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    ELCA? Now, I am sad.

  • Jonathan

    No, you haven’t, Steve.

  • Jonathan

    No, you haven’t, Steve.

  • MissionMobilizer

    That was an interesting read, but I found it to be rather shallow in terms of “Lutheranism”. Perhaps the ELCA connection is what does that, but I also have concerns over this idea of “this is the room that works for me, but there are lots of other rooms that God calls people to.” (not an exact quote, and I paraphrase from his comments) Can someone please explain to me how this idea ISN’T just repackaged relativism?

  • MissionMobilizer

    That was an interesting read, but I found it to be rather shallow in terms of “Lutheranism”. Perhaps the ELCA connection is what does that, but I also have concerns over this idea of “this is the room that works for me, but there are lots of other rooms that God calls people to.” (not an exact quote, and I paraphrase from his comments) Can someone please explain to me how this idea ISN’T just repackaged relativism?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    I can go back and find where I have recently (within a couple of weeks) criticized the ELCA over there.

    Do you want me to go through the troble of finding it for you, or will you take my word on it?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    I can go back and find where I have recently (within a couple of weeks) criticized the ELCA over there.

    Do you want me to go through the troble of finding it for you, or will you take my word on it?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    ‘troble’? – I like it.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    ‘troble’? – I like it.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    That’s one of my main problems with the ELCA. The desire to be liked by everyone.

    Couple that with throwing out God’s Word, and what are you left with? A “3rd use of the law” from a secular perspective. Social gospel stuff. This IS much of the ELCA.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    That’s one of my main problems with the ELCA. The desire to be liked by everyone.

    Couple that with throwing out God’s Word, and what are you left with? A “3rd use of the law” from a secular perspective. Social gospel stuff. This IS much of the ELCA.

  • Jonathan

    Yes, Steve, I’d like you to find a comment at the Internet Monk site similar to what you posted here @19. Gird you your loins and tell Chap Mike that he wants to be ordained in a synod that has thrown out God’s word.

  • Jonathan

    Yes, Steve, I’d like you to find a comment at the Internet Monk site similar to what you posted here @19. Gird you your loins and tell Chap Mike that he wants to be ordained in a synod that has thrown out God’s word.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Jonathan,

    I said this on the Internet Monk on Nov. 4th (Wilderness Update) in case you still don’t trust me and want to look it up for yourself:

    “Believe me. I am no fan of the ELCA. We have had virtually nothing to do with them for a decade.”

    and…

    “God bless you, Chaplain Mike.

    I love saying, “I am a Lutheran”.

    We’re in the ELCA looking to leave it.

    We’re looking at LCMC or possiblt NALC. Leaning more towards LCMC.”

    The next time you call me a liar, Jonathan, you should be a little more sure of that which you speak.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Jonathan,

    I said this on the Internet Monk on Nov. 4th (Wilderness Update) in case you still don’t trust me and want to look it up for yourself:

    “Believe me. I am no fan of the ELCA. We have had virtually nothing to do with them for a decade.”

    and…

    “God bless you, Chaplain Mike.

    I love saying, “I am a Lutheran”.

    We’re in the ELCA looking to leave it.

    We’re looking at LCMC or possiblt NALC. Leaning more towards LCMC.”

    The next time you call me a liar, Jonathan, you should be a little more sure of that which you speak.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I rearely go to internet monk since Spencer died. I saw Chaplain Mike heading towards the ELCA for a while now, though, I check in periodically. Honestly there is a cacaphony of voices over there now, which makes it confusing, and none of them come close to capturing Spencer’s mantel. Spencer had a crticism of American Evangelicalism that cut. I just don’t see it there any more.
    But Chaplian Mike becomeing ELCA, well there are voices in the ELCA worth listening to. I have really enjoyed much of Forde’s work, and Nestingen. I can’t swallow it all mind you, but there is some good stuff there worth chewing on. The ELCa tends at least if trained in seminaries like Luther Seminary, to be able to at least think along Lutheran doctrinal distinctives. This is more than I can say for anything I have seen in the LCMC so far. But yeah, there is a tendency here not to smell what is really rotten with American Evangelicalism, at the core it is an unwillingness to let God’s word speak. Spencer seemed to have a problem with that, and so does Chaplain Mike. Neither one of them is willing to let God’s word speak, not against their preconceived notions of what it has to say. of course, American Evangelicalism perhaps muzzles the word of God in a different manner than Liberal Protestantism, but as someone mentioned above, to move from one to another is nothing more than the frying pan to the fire.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I rearely go to internet monk since Spencer died. I saw Chaplain Mike heading towards the ELCA for a while now, though, I check in periodically. Honestly there is a cacaphony of voices over there now, which makes it confusing, and none of them come close to capturing Spencer’s mantel. Spencer had a crticism of American Evangelicalism that cut. I just don’t see it there any more.
    But Chaplian Mike becomeing ELCA, well there are voices in the ELCA worth listening to. I have really enjoyed much of Forde’s work, and Nestingen. I can’t swallow it all mind you, but there is some good stuff there worth chewing on. The ELCa tends at least if trained in seminaries like Luther Seminary, to be able to at least think along Lutheran doctrinal distinctives. This is more than I can say for anything I have seen in the LCMC so far. But yeah, there is a tendency here not to smell what is really rotten with American Evangelicalism, at the core it is an unwillingness to let God’s word speak. Spencer seemed to have a problem with that, and so does Chaplain Mike. Neither one of them is willing to let God’s word speak, not against their preconceived notions of what it has to say. of course, American Evangelicalism perhaps muzzles the word of God in a different manner than Liberal Protestantism, but as someone mentioned above, to move from one to another is nothing more than the frying pan to the fire.

  • Jonathan

    @21 The comments you quote say nothing about the ECLA, except that you don’t like it, for reasons unstated. My point was that you won’t tell Chap Mike that he’s gone “left,” into a synod that has jettisoned God’s Word.

  • Jonathan

    @21 The comments you quote say nothing about the ECLA, except that you don’t like it, for reasons unstated. My point was that you won’t tell Chap Mike that he’s gone “left,” into a synod that has jettisoned God’s Word.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Like I said. I would not tell Chaplain Mike that at this point in time. And I wouldn’t rain on his parade if he announced that he was going the LCMS route, either.

    But I have gone after both sides, on both sites, before. And anyone that knows me knows that is true.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Like I said. I would not tell Chaplain Mike that at this point in time. And I wouldn’t rain on his parade if he announced that he was going the LCMS route, either.

    But I have gone after both sides, on both sites, before. And anyone that knows me knows that is true.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    I have stated over there (many, many times) the reasons that I think the ELCA has gone off the rails. And I will do it again when the time is right.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    I have stated over there (many, many times) the reasons that I think the ELCA has gone off the rails. And I will do it again when the time is right.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    That’s enough of that.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    That’s enough of that.

  • Craig

    When you boil it all down you still have the real Christ in Baptism and TLS in the ELCA, LCMS and WELS. I rather be in a left wing ELCA congeration receiving the sacrement than in a right wing evangelical one with no Christ!

  • Craig

    When you boil it all down you still have the real Christ in Baptism and TLS in the ELCA, LCMS and WELS. I rather be in a left wing ELCA congeration receiving the sacrement than in a right wing evangelical one with no Christ!

  • SKPeterson

    Bror @ 22 – I agree in general with your assessment of the ELCA. But, to follow up on your point, Forde and Nestingen are no longer emblematic or indicative of mainstream, acceptable ELCA theology. Both were effectively shunted aside and sent packing. The only “orthodox” Lutheran seminary professor left at Luther is Steven Paulson, and if he wasn’t the tenured token conservative he’d also be given an unceremonious kick in the pants on his way out the door. The ELCA has become dominated by the herchurch theology instead. Maybe that’s what Chaplain Mike needs to be shown: he won’t get Steve Paulson Lutheranism by joining the ELCA, he’ll get this: http://www.herchurch.org/.

  • SKPeterson

    Bror @ 22 – I agree in general with your assessment of the ELCA. But, to follow up on your point, Forde and Nestingen are no longer emblematic or indicative of mainstream, acceptable ELCA theology. Both were effectively shunted aside and sent packing. The only “orthodox” Lutheran seminary professor left at Luther is Steven Paulson, and if he wasn’t the tenured token conservative he’d also be given an unceremonious kick in the pants on his way out the door. The ELCA has become dominated by the herchurch theology instead. Maybe that’s what Chaplain Mike needs to be shown: he won’t get Steve Paulson Lutheranism by joining the ELCA, he’ll get this: http://www.herchurch.org/.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    SK,
    I realize this. I Don’t know who Chaplain Mike’s Pastor is currently. So I don’t know what chaplain Mike is experiencing as Lutheranism. That’s all I’m really getting at. That and I don’t think that the LCMC or the NALC are really options for those who want to remain faithful Lutherans. The LCMC pastors that I have run into around here, couldn’t tell you what the Augsburg confession is, much less what it says. My run ins with them have me thinking they are Rick Warrenites calling themselves Lutheran because one of them ate Lutefisk last Christmas.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    SK,
    I realize this. I Don’t know who Chaplain Mike’s Pastor is currently. So I don’t know what chaplain Mike is experiencing as Lutheranism. That’s all I’m really getting at. That and I don’t think that the LCMC or the NALC are really options for those who want to remain faithful Lutherans. The LCMC pastors that I have run into around here, couldn’t tell you what the Augsburg confession is, much less what it says. My run ins with them have me thinking they are Rick Warrenites calling themselves Lutheran because one of them ate Lutefisk last Christmas.

  • SKPeterson

    Bror,

    I’ve noticed some of the same things in LCMC. The congregation I was baptized in (Morningside, Sioux City) left the ELCA for LCMC about 10 years or so ago – they might as well be Evangelical Free from what I can tell. NALC is probably too soon to tell.

  • SKPeterson

    Bror,

    I’ve noticed some of the same things in LCMC. The congregation I was baptized in (Morningside, Sioux City) left the ELCA for LCMC about 10 years or so ago – they might as well be Evangelical Free from what I can tell. NALC is probably too soon to tell.

  • JunkerGeorg

    If he is entering the ELCA, at least one hopes that he is thoroughly exposed to excellent teachers of the Lutheran faith who still survive within that synod, such as James Nestingen, Steven Paulson, Mark Mattes, etc., not to mention getting exposed to works by Oliver Olson and Gerhard Forde. Perhaps if someone like Dr. Veith has his address, I’d be glad to purchase/donate a copy of say Paulson’s book, “Lutheran Theology”, which is an excellent book for a new Lutheran pastor.

  • JunkerGeorg

    If he is entering the ELCA, at least one hopes that he is thoroughly exposed to excellent teachers of the Lutheran faith who still survive within that synod, such as James Nestingen, Steven Paulson, Mark Mattes, etc., not to mention getting exposed to works by Oliver Olson and Gerhard Forde. Perhaps if someone like Dr. Veith has his address, I’d be glad to purchase/donate a copy of say Paulson’s book, “Lutheran Theology”, which is an excellent book for a new Lutheran pastor.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Yes there are pastors in all the Lutheran denominations that don’t know what they are talking about.

    I know ELCA pastors that get it. I know LCMS that get it. I know LCMC that get it. I know NALC pastors that get it.

    I also know a lot of Southern Baptist Lutherans of all stripes.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Yes there are pastors in all the Lutheran denominations that don’t know what they are talking about.

    I know ELCA pastors that get it. I know LCMS that get it. I know LCMC that get it. I know NALC pastors that get it.

    I also know a lot of Southern Baptist Lutherans of all stripes.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    We share our sanctuary and pulpit with an LCMS congregation.

    We are free to do so. For us it really IS Christ alone. NO ADD -ON’S.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    We share our sanctuary and pulpit with an LCMS congregation.

    We are free to do so. For us it really IS Christ alone. NO ADD -ON’S.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Steve @32,
    I do hear what you are saying here about the southern baptist Lutherans of all stripes. My concern I guess, more than anything with the LCMC, is that The pastor they have in our town graduated from a reformed seminary with not a Lutheran on the faculty, I very much doubt they even hired one as a janitor. So it makes me a bit concerned. Maybe it is just Utah, but I get a distinct notion that the LCMC thinks they can put the needle back to 1986 and somehow it will play a different tune.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Steve @32,
    I do hear what you are saying here about the southern baptist Lutherans of all stripes. My concern I guess, more than anything with the LCMC, is that The pastor they have in our town graduated from a reformed seminary with not a Lutheran on the faculty, I very much doubt they even hired one as a janitor. So it makes me a bit concerned. Maybe it is just Utah, but I get a distinct notion that the LCMC thinks they can put the needle back to 1986 and somehow it will play a different tune.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Bror,

    The folks I know at LCMC are solid Lutherans. They know that there will be those who are marginally Lutheran. There are mechanisms in place, however, to terminate the association with congregations that are decidedly ‘not Lutheran’.

    Plus, they don’t have any bishops which makes me a fan right there.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Bror,

    The folks I know at LCMC are solid Lutherans. They know that there will be those who are marginally Lutheran. There are mechanisms in place, however, to terminate the association with congregations that are decidedly ‘not Lutheran’.

    Plus, they don’t have any bishops which makes me a fan right there.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    The problem with the ELCA is not that they aren’t Lutheran enough. The problem is that they aren’t Christian enough. I started out Baptist and married into the ELCA. Being authentically Lutheran wasn’t even on my radar, but it was pretty obvious that the ELCA didn’t believe the Bible, and therefore wasn’t authentically Christian. They are about where the Unitarians or maybe Universalists were back in the day.

    How could any honest Christian be in fellowship with that HerChurch congregation of the ELCA?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    The problem with the ELCA is not that they aren’t Lutheran enough. The problem is that they aren’t Christian enough. I started out Baptist and married into the ELCA. Being authentically Lutheran wasn’t even on my radar, but it was pretty obvious that the ELCA didn’t believe the Bible, and therefore wasn’t authentically Christian. They are about where the Unitarians or maybe Universalists were back in the day.

    How could any honest Christian be in fellowship with that HerChurch congregation of the ELCA?

  • JunkerGeorg

    Luther taught in his Smalcald Articles that “enthusiasm” was the mother of all heresies. I’d argue this lies behind even the liberal views of Scripture as not being inspired/inerrant. Enthusiasm, reflecting the “piety” of the old adam–the sinful nature which is curvatus in sei (“curved in on oneself)–has at it’s goal the self in itself, not Christ in Himself. Such is expressed in various terms whether it be self-justification, self-deification, etc.

    Anyways, given we were talking about the ELCA here, my point is that the nature of such enthusiasm was well layed out I once heard a talk by a person from the ELCA whom I respect a great deal. (Out of the need for discretion, I won’t quote his name here.) I quote the following from him:

    “No doubt, the ELCA has lost track of the original source of Scripture, which is the inerrancy in the letters that come through an inerrant Holy Spirit. But we must go one step deeper, which is that the ELCA has become enthusiasts, fanatics who swallow the Holy Spirit, feathers and all. They are not immoralist. Instead, they are on a quest for a greater holiness than yours. The ELCA is a runaway train of piety which they believe is conducted by the Holy Spirit, Who is the Perfector of the Law. To them, law is not universal and unchanging, but imbued by the Spirit with the power to evolve, develop, adapt and so to make new laws — that is, they have discovered what they consider to be the greatest part of divinity, which is the future, not the past–the Spirit, not the Father. Here they’ve tapped into a truly American principle: It is not the past, but the future that will save…They have discovered that the laws of Scripture and nature that are universal, unchanging, permanent–kill. (2 Cor. 3). But they think they’ve discovered an escape. Old laws kill, but new ones can give life if the new laws are merciful and full of grace–specifically because they are inclusive–not exclusive. Thus, these new laws adapt to the one, future, perfect law above all: Love! They posited that God could not possibly have meant to kill with Scripture because God is love, not hate. God means to make us better–better Christians, better disciples, better Churches that are a light to the nations, and who are the true body of Christ because they embody love. (This is not unlike what our Luttheran churches faced in the Prussian Union with the likes of Schleiermacher.) Therefore, in order for God to reveal himself truly He must work, not only in Scripture, but beyond it, in the form of merciful, graceful, unconditional love. So, at the root of this fanaticism, lies a confusion of law and gospel, and so a demonic lie–that justification is by love–unconditional love….The problem is deeper than their denial of the inerrancy of Scripture. The chief article (Justification) is confused here, since we are justified by faith, not by love. Once love becomes the chief article, the gospel is confused for a law. For love is the fulfillment of the law…Lutherans everywhere are confused about “unconditional love”, and so they have made of themselves churches of the law either in its “conservative” form or its “progressive” form as if that were the fulfillment of Christ’s mercy and grace. So our first assignment is to say “no” to love, and give faith alone its proper place. But this is deeply offensive to piety and the Zeitgeist. It is as offensive as it was in Luther’s Day when love was dethroned as the highest Christian “virtue”.”

  • JunkerGeorg

    Luther taught in his Smalcald Articles that “enthusiasm” was the mother of all heresies. I’d argue this lies behind even the liberal views of Scripture as not being inspired/inerrant. Enthusiasm, reflecting the “piety” of the old adam–the sinful nature which is curvatus in sei (“curved in on oneself)–has at it’s goal the self in itself, not Christ in Himself. Such is expressed in various terms whether it be self-justification, self-deification, etc.

    Anyways, given we were talking about the ELCA here, my point is that the nature of such enthusiasm was well layed out I once heard a talk by a person from the ELCA whom I respect a great deal. (Out of the need for discretion, I won’t quote his name here.) I quote the following from him:

    “No doubt, the ELCA has lost track of the original source of Scripture, which is the inerrancy in the letters that come through an inerrant Holy Spirit. But we must go one step deeper, which is that the ELCA has become enthusiasts, fanatics who swallow the Holy Spirit, feathers and all. They are not immoralist. Instead, they are on a quest for a greater holiness than yours. The ELCA is a runaway train of piety which they believe is conducted by the Holy Spirit, Who is the Perfector of the Law. To them, law is not universal and unchanging, but imbued by the Spirit with the power to evolve, develop, adapt and so to make new laws — that is, they have discovered what they consider to be the greatest part of divinity, which is the future, not the past–the Spirit, not the Father. Here they’ve tapped into a truly American principle: It is not the past, but the future that will save…They have discovered that the laws of Scripture and nature that are universal, unchanging, permanent–kill. (2 Cor. 3). But they think they’ve discovered an escape. Old laws kill, but new ones can give life if the new laws are merciful and full of grace–specifically because they are inclusive–not exclusive. Thus, these new laws adapt to the one, future, perfect law above all: Love! They posited that God could not possibly have meant to kill with Scripture because God is love, not hate. God means to make us better–better Christians, better disciples, better Churches that are a light to the nations, and who are the true body of Christ because they embody love. (This is not unlike what our Luttheran churches faced in the Prussian Union with the likes of Schleiermacher.) Therefore, in order for God to reveal himself truly He must work, not only in Scripture, but beyond it, in the form of merciful, graceful, unconditional love. So, at the root of this fanaticism, lies a confusion of law and gospel, and so a demonic lie–that justification is by love–unconditional love….The problem is deeper than their denial of the inerrancy of Scripture. The chief article (Justification) is confused here, since we are justified by faith, not by love. Once love becomes the chief article, the gospel is confused for a law. For love is the fulfillment of the law…Lutherans everywhere are confused about “unconditional love”, and so they have made of themselves churches of the law either in its “conservative” form or its “progressive” form as if that were the fulfillment of Christ’s mercy and grace. So our first assignment is to say “no” to love, and give faith alone its proper place. But this is deeply offensive to piety and the Zeitgeist. It is as offensive as it was in Luther’s Day when love was dethroned as the highest Christian “virtue”.”

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Count me as another sad to see the man going to ELCA. I had an ELCA roommate for a while, and the guy was becoming a fan of Bishop Spong while claiming ELCA was somehow faithful to the Scriptures. One doesn’t need to be LCMS (and I’m certainly not) to be sad about that.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Count me as another sad to see the man going to ELCA. I had an ELCA roommate for a while, and the guy was becoming a fan of Bishop Spong while claiming ELCA was somehow faithful to the Scriptures. One doesn’t need to be LCMS (and I’m certainly not) to be sad about that.

  • http://www.internetmonk.com chaplain mike

    Thanks, everyone, for sharing your perspectives on my transition. I think I explained my position in a post on IM called, “Wilderness Update.” Many of you may not agree, but the order of my commitments is this: (1) To Christ, (2) to the Christian Church, (3) to the Lutheran Tradition, (4) to a local congregation and denomination. I know there are many problems in the ELCA, but I see equally serious problems in every Lutheran denomination, though they may be of different kinds. Thankfully, Lutherans place high priority on the local congregation, and where I live the churches are sufficiently “centrist” (Steve’s word) and I have had no problem whatsoever maintaining my Biblical and theological commitments (which are probably as conservative as any Lutheran). One of the characteristics of evangelicalism which I have long despised has been the tendency of people, pastors, and congregations to divide and separate themselves over all kinds of issues rather than persevere in imperfect ecclesiastical situations. I prefer to take the long view, expressed well in “The Church’s One Foundation” –

    Though with a scornful wonder
    Men see her sore oppressed,
    By schisms rent asunder,
    By heresies distressed:
    Yet saints their watch are keeping,
    Their cry goes up, “How long?”
    And soon the night of weeping
    Shall be the morn of song!

    I long to be one of those “saints keeping watch,” within the Lutheran tradition, representing God’s truth and love.

  • http://www.internetmonk.com chaplain mike

    Thanks, everyone, for sharing your perspectives on my transition. I think I explained my position in a post on IM called, “Wilderness Update.” Many of you may not agree, but the order of my commitments is this: (1) To Christ, (2) to the Christian Church, (3) to the Lutheran Tradition, (4) to a local congregation and denomination. I know there are many problems in the ELCA, but I see equally serious problems in every Lutheran denomination, though they may be of different kinds. Thankfully, Lutherans place high priority on the local congregation, and where I live the churches are sufficiently “centrist” (Steve’s word) and I have had no problem whatsoever maintaining my Biblical and theological commitments (which are probably as conservative as any Lutheran). One of the characteristics of evangelicalism which I have long despised has been the tendency of people, pastors, and congregations to divide and separate themselves over all kinds of issues rather than persevere in imperfect ecclesiastical situations. I prefer to take the long view, expressed well in “The Church’s One Foundation” –

    Though with a scornful wonder
    Men see her sore oppressed,
    By schisms rent asunder,
    By heresies distressed:
    Yet saints their watch are keeping,
    Their cry goes up, “How long?”
    And soon the night of weeping
    Shall be the morn of song!

    I long to be one of those “saints keeping watch,” within the Lutheran tradition, representing God’s truth and love.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @Chaplain Mike,

    You write: “I know there are many problems in the ELCA, but I see equally serious problems in every Lutheran denomination, though they may be of different kinds.”
    ———–

    With all due respect to you, there are problems and then there are PROBLEMS. For instance, there are indeed serious problems in smaller Lutheran synods like my own LCMS, so much so that for the faithful pastors it is getting close to the point of entering “status confessionis”, practicing selective fellowship in terms of closed communion with regard to the laity, pastors (and even-if-not-especially some Synodcrat District Presidents) in other congregations within our synod. I said “getting close”–not that we’re there yet. Why aren’t we there yet? Because, UNLIKE the ELCA, the serious problems you mention in the other Lutheran Synods, or at least in the LCMS, are still errors on the level of actual practice by pastors/laity in particular congregations of our synod…such errors have not yet reached the level of the Synod’s official, publicly-stated positions on doctrine and practice. In other words, our synod as a whole says on paper what I believe to be faithful to God’s Word and consistent with the Lutheran Confessions, but in some of the individual congregations, they say/do another thing in actual teaching and practice, contrary to our official positions, which I accept as faithful to God’s Word.

    Actually, as you well know, you will never find a synod or denomination in which all of its congregations/pastors are perfectly consistent with their officially stated positions on doctrine and practice. Nevertheless, I do think the officially stated positions of a synod/denomination are the clincher here, and I hope you will consider what I’m saying. Pray God not, but should my LCMS synod decay to the point that they are taking official positions on doctrine and practice which are contrary to God’s Word, then such is the time to go into a state of confession as I mentioned above, in order to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” Notice, I didn’t say “leave the synod”, as schism is not right either, especially abandoning one’s call if you’re a pastor who is serving a congregation—just as Luther didn’t “leave” the Roman Catholic church, but contended for the faith within her until such time as Rome excommunicated him, kicking him out.

    Why am I telling you this? Well, if you have already committed to the ELCA, then it is too late. But if not, then please consider the distinction I layed out above. There are serious problems withing all Lutheran synods on the level of actual practice amongst certain congregations/pastors, but then there are UNACCEPTABLE problems on the level of a synod’s officially stated positions on doctrine and practice, and we are kidding ourselves if we tried to equate the ELCA with the smaller Lutheran synods (or the LCMS at least), on the level of officially stated doctrine and practice. So, if you have already entered the ELCA, then take a serious look at their official positions on doctrine and practice. If you do, then you might come to the conclusion that you can’t in good conscience keep your shut and not immediately contend for the faith there (and such contention, as reflected in the Lutheran Confessions, is not merely about what we “affirm”, but also about what we “condemn”—that’s where the cross really comes in and most flee the scene!) If you haven’t committed, then please reconsider the official positions of all of the Lutheran synods on doctrine and practice, and ask yourself which one is the most faithful (if not completely faithful) to God’s Word.

    Respectfully yours,
    Junker

  • JunkerGeorg

    @Chaplain Mike,

    You write: “I know there are many problems in the ELCA, but I see equally serious problems in every Lutheran denomination, though they may be of different kinds.”
    ———–

    With all due respect to you, there are problems and then there are PROBLEMS. For instance, there are indeed serious problems in smaller Lutheran synods like my own LCMS, so much so that for the faithful pastors it is getting close to the point of entering “status confessionis”, practicing selective fellowship in terms of closed communion with regard to the laity, pastors (and even-if-not-especially some Synodcrat District Presidents) in other congregations within our synod. I said “getting close”–not that we’re there yet. Why aren’t we there yet? Because, UNLIKE the ELCA, the serious problems you mention in the other Lutheran Synods, or at least in the LCMS, are still errors on the level of actual practice by pastors/laity in particular congregations of our synod…such errors have not yet reached the level of the Synod’s official, publicly-stated positions on doctrine and practice. In other words, our synod as a whole says on paper what I believe to be faithful to God’s Word and consistent with the Lutheran Confessions, but in some of the individual congregations, they say/do another thing in actual teaching and practice, contrary to our official positions, which I accept as faithful to God’s Word.

    Actually, as you well know, you will never find a synod or denomination in which all of its congregations/pastors are perfectly consistent with their officially stated positions on doctrine and practice. Nevertheless, I do think the officially stated positions of a synod/denomination are the clincher here, and I hope you will consider what I’m saying. Pray God not, but should my LCMS synod decay to the point that they are taking official positions on doctrine and practice which are contrary to God’s Word, then such is the time to go into a state of confession as I mentioned above, in order to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” Notice, I didn’t say “leave the synod”, as schism is not right either, especially abandoning one’s call if you’re a pastor who is serving a congregation—just as Luther didn’t “leave” the Roman Catholic church, but contended for the faith within her until such time as Rome excommunicated him, kicking him out.

    Why am I telling you this? Well, if you have already committed to the ELCA, then it is too late. But if not, then please consider the distinction I layed out above. There are serious problems withing all Lutheran synods on the level of actual practice amongst certain congregations/pastors, but then there are UNACCEPTABLE problems on the level of a synod’s officially stated positions on doctrine and practice, and we are kidding ourselves if we tried to equate the ELCA with the smaller Lutheran synods (or the LCMS at least), on the level of officially stated doctrine and practice. So, if you have already entered the ELCA, then take a serious look at their official positions on doctrine and practice. If you do, then you might come to the conclusion that you can’t in good conscience keep your shut and not immediately contend for the faith there (and such contention, as reflected in the Lutheran Confessions, is not merely about what we “affirm”, but also about what we “condemn”—that’s where the cross really comes in and most flee the scene!) If you haven’t committed, then please reconsider the official positions of all of the Lutheran synods on doctrine and practice, and ask yourself which one is the most faithful (if not completely faithful) to God’s Word.

    Respectfully yours,
    Junker

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    He joined the ELCA and wants to be a pastor there?

    Wow, that’s quite a short-circuit in thinking.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    He joined the ELCA and wants to be a pastor there?

    Wow, that’s quite a short-circuit in thinking.

  • SKPeterson

    I would suggest TAALC to Chap. Mike as a very realistic alternative, or perhaps AFLC given his concern for congregational polity. They each have a more congregational focus and are pretty solid theologically (TAALC perhaps more so).

    A further caution on the ELCA – the current independence of congregations is rapidly eroding and I suspect will be gone in the next 10 years. This is due primarily to the fact that there is not one bishop in the ELCA who has had the intestinal fortitude to buck the policies sent down from Chicago, to repudiate the decisions of the CWA from 2009, to openly and actively question the mishmash of open pulpit fellowship agreements with other church bodies, or condemn the current state of ELCA seminaries. The bishops as a whole have abdicated their moral and ecclesiastical callings and I fear Chap. Mike will find only cold comfort in their deadened embrace.

  • SKPeterson

    I would suggest TAALC to Chap. Mike as a very realistic alternative, or perhaps AFLC given his concern for congregational polity. They each have a more congregational focus and are pretty solid theologically (TAALC perhaps more so).

    A further caution on the ELCA – the current independence of congregations is rapidly eroding and I suspect will be gone in the next 10 years. This is due primarily to the fact that there is not one bishop in the ELCA who has had the intestinal fortitude to buck the policies sent down from Chicago, to repudiate the decisions of the CWA from 2009, to openly and actively question the mishmash of open pulpit fellowship agreements with other church bodies, or condemn the current state of ELCA seminaries. The bishops as a whole have abdicated their moral and ecclesiastical callings and I fear Chap. Mike will find only cold comfort in their deadened embrace.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Cahplain mike, I’d echoe sk’s concerns. And I urge you to give this some considerable thought. The congregation is only going to be as strong or weak as the pastor they are given. So I’m glad you have a good one right now. But now you are becoming a pastor, and perhaps you will be able to do some good for a congregation for a time. But when the seminaries and heierarchy are as bankrupt as they are in the elca, you will see the foundations you lay be torn up and new ones being laid.
    See it is possible to have the bible as god’s word and be christ centered, infact that is the only way a church body remains christ centered in the long run. But when the foundation of the prophets and apostles is torn up, the cornerstone doesn’t remain in place either.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Cahplain mike, I’d echoe sk’s concerns. And I urge you to give this some considerable thought. The congregation is only going to be as strong or weak as the pastor they are given. So I’m glad you have a good one right now. But now you are becoming a pastor, and perhaps you will be able to do some good for a congregation for a time. But when the seminaries and heierarchy are as bankrupt as they are in the elca, you will see the foundations you lay be torn up and new ones being laid.
    See it is possible to have the bible as god’s word and be christ centered, infact that is the only way a church body remains christ centered in the long run. But when the foundation of the prophets and apostles is torn up, the cornerstone doesn’t remain in place either.

  • Patrick Kyle

    C’mon guys….Chaplain Mike, who writes for one of the biggest Christian blogs in the blogosphere, converts to Lutheranism, trumpets the Lutheran doctrine and distinctives to tens of thousands of non-Lutheran readers, and apparently has found a conservative congregation in the ELCA to call his home. And you guys complain that ‘he has chosen the wrong group’ and proceed to publicly bitch about it, and ‘warn’ him’ about the mistake he is making. Some are even snide in their comment towards him.

    Really?

  • Patrick Kyle

    C’mon guys….Chaplain Mike, who writes for one of the biggest Christian blogs in the blogosphere, converts to Lutheranism, trumpets the Lutheran doctrine and distinctives to tens of thousands of non-Lutheran readers, and apparently has found a conservative congregation in the ELCA to call his home. And you guys complain that ‘he has chosen the wrong group’ and proceed to publicly bitch about it, and ‘warn’ him’ about the mistake he is making. Some are even snide in their comment towards him.

    Really?

  • SKPeterson

    Patrick – I believe the concern is merited, as I’ve posted above. Chap. Mike is moving from an Evangelical background into Lutheranism, as he has found much of value in the Lutheran approach to theology and its expressions in liturgy and hymnody. That is all to the good.

    Yet, he is moving to the ELCA, which in many respects is moving, at least theologically, faster towards the old Pietist “move of the Holy Spirit” practices of some of the old 19th Century Lutherans which were ground zero for the emergence of the modern evangelicals in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s just that the ELCA has moved left, while many of the evangelicals moved right, but the theological weakness of both springs from the same source. Chap. Mike is, to some extent, going full circle, but masking it under a veneer of liturgy, lectionary and vestments (all good things btw) in what will probably be only a fleeting brush with the remaining conservatism still extant in the ELCA. Cherish it while it lasts, Mike; it probably won’t be there in 10 years and almost surely will be gone in 20.

  • SKPeterson

    Patrick – I believe the concern is merited, as I’ve posted above. Chap. Mike is moving from an Evangelical background into Lutheranism, as he has found much of value in the Lutheran approach to theology and its expressions in liturgy and hymnody. That is all to the good.

    Yet, he is moving to the ELCA, which in many respects is moving, at least theologically, faster towards the old Pietist “move of the Holy Spirit” practices of some of the old 19th Century Lutherans which were ground zero for the emergence of the modern evangelicals in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s just that the ELCA has moved left, while many of the evangelicals moved right, but the theological weakness of both springs from the same source. Chap. Mike is, to some extent, going full circle, but masking it under a veneer of liturgy, lectionary and vestments (all good things btw) in what will probably be only a fleeting brush with the remaining conservatism still extant in the ELCA. Cherish it while it lasts, Mike; it probably won’t be there in 10 years and almost surely will be gone in 20.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Patrick, of course we are happy to hear Michael has determined that the Lutheran Confession is one he can embrace, but precisely because of that fact, we are shocked, stunned and deeply concerned that he has embraced a church body that has so dramatically departed from nearly anything that makes the Lutheran Confession something more than a nod to history.

    The ELCA, as a church body, has compromised every distinct confession of the Lutheran Church: the doctrine of justification, the Lord’s Supper, Holy Baptism, and the list goes on.

    And then there is the more “flashy” problems in the ELCA: its wholescale embrace of the homosexual and feminist agenda, and all the attendant evils of those two movements.

    That Michael is a Lutheran now is a good thing. That he seeks ordination in a church body that is so wholly now bankrupt is quite another.

    I would have hoped he would have had some friends guiding him away from the ELCA.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Patrick, of course we are happy to hear Michael has determined that the Lutheran Confession is one he can embrace, but precisely because of that fact, we are shocked, stunned and deeply concerned that he has embraced a church body that has so dramatically departed from nearly anything that makes the Lutheran Confession something more than a nod to history.

    The ELCA, as a church body, has compromised every distinct confession of the Lutheran Church: the doctrine of justification, the Lord’s Supper, Holy Baptism, and the list goes on.

    And then there is the more “flashy” problems in the ELCA: its wholescale embrace of the homosexual and feminist agenda, and all the attendant evils of those two movements.

    That Michael is a Lutheran now is a good thing. That he seeks ordination in a church body that is so wholly now bankrupt is quite another.

    I would have hoped he would have had some friends guiding him away from the ELCA.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Patrick,
    As I said before, I’m glad he has a good congregation within the ELCA. And I don’t know if you are levelling your criticism against me or not. But I think this is going to be a very typical reaction and not necessarily a bad one, or one that puts us or “Lutheranism” in a bad light. Though I do caution the snideness.
    Here is the thing. You and I both know friends in the ELCA who have good pastors. We also know what those pastors are being put through. Here on this board are a number of commenters who have recently left the ELCA, because their conscience couldn’t bear it any longer. How are they supposed to react to this news? I think some of them are honestly doing the only Christian thing they know how to do in this situation, and that is wish the man well, but not without trying to give him a heads up as to what they encountered and why they have left. I think they are a bit shocked, traumatized, and worried as hell Mike is leaping from a frying pan and into the fire, or possibly even the other way around.
    But Mike is a big boy and he can make his own decisions, as he has shown by commenting here, and vaguely commenting that the church bodies these others have gone too have their own problems, without hinting at why he thinks their problems might be worse than those of the ELCA. (Something I’d like to hear him comment on sometime. I mean I know the LCMS isn’t Shangrila, but neither is it quite the sewers of Sri Lanka.)
    But there it is also, and why I think it might not be such a bad thing. I mean, Mike is leaving the Evangelical Wilderness. Somemight suspect he is just going into the Liberal protestant wilderness. I’m guessing that those who read his blog and share his background and sentiments are having some confused thoughts and mixed emotions concerning this move. I’m guessing many of them share some longing for what Mike has found in his conservative ELCA congregation. I’m betting they are also not banking on their local ELCA congregation as being quite as strong. many of them have the mised up notions that all Lutherans are nothing more than the protestant liberals. So my guess is that they are probably a little relieved to hear someone challenge Mike and say, you can be Christ centered and still hold scripture sacred. They might be a little happy to hear that some Lutheran denominations have different takes on what it means to be Lutheran, while still holding to those things Mike has grown to cherish. And they just might be happy to see that there are Lutherans who care enough to give the heads up to another guy as to what is really at stake here in the decision he is making.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Patrick,
    As I said before, I’m glad he has a good congregation within the ELCA. And I don’t know if you are levelling your criticism against me or not. But I think this is going to be a very typical reaction and not necessarily a bad one, or one that puts us or “Lutheranism” in a bad light. Though I do caution the snideness.
    Here is the thing. You and I both know friends in the ELCA who have good pastors. We also know what those pastors are being put through. Here on this board are a number of commenters who have recently left the ELCA, because their conscience couldn’t bear it any longer. How are they supposed to react to this news? I think some of them are honestly doing the only Christian thing they know how to do in this situation, and that is wish the man well, but not without trying to give him a heads up as to what they encountered and why they have left. I think they are a bit shocked, traumatized, and worried as hell Mike is leaping from a frying pan and into the fire, or possibly even the other way around.
    But Mike is a big boy and he can make his own decisions, as he has shown by commenting here, and vaguely commenting that the church bodies these others have gone too have their own problems, without hinting at why he thinks their problems might be worse than those of the ELCA. (Something I’d like to hear him comment on sometime. I mean I know the LCMS isn’t Shangrila, but neither is it quite the sewers of Sri Lanka.)
    But there it is also, and why I think it might not be such a bad thing. I mean, Mike is leaving the Evangelical Wilderness. Somemight suspect he is just going into the Liberal protestant wilderness. I’m guessing that those who read his blog and share his background and sentiments are having some confused thoughts and mixed emotions concerning this move. I’m guessing many of them share some longing for what Mike has found in his conservative ELCA congregation. I’m betting they are also not banking on their local ELCA congregation as being quite as strong. many of them have the mised up notions that all Lutherans are nothing more than the protestant liberals. So my guess is that they are probably a little relieved to hear someone challenge Mike and say, you can be Christ centered and still hold scripture sacred. They might be a little happy to hear that some Lutheran denominations have different takes on what it means to be Lutheran, while still holding to those things Mike has grown to cherish. And they just might be happy to see that there are Lutherans who care enough to give the heads up to another guy as to what is really at stake here in the decision he is making.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Gentlemen, I understand where you are coming from, but have serious concerns. I have to leave for work, but will address these further later this evening,

  • Patrick Kyle

    Gentlemen, I understand where you are coming from, but have serious concerns. I have to leave for work, but will address these further later this evening,

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m a day light and likely several dollars short here (exciting goings-on in my house the past week, as some of you know), but Mike (@39), I didn’t understand this statement of yours:

    One of the characteristics of evangelicalism which I have long despised has been the tendency of people, pastors, and congregations to divide and separate themselves over all kinds of issues rather than persevere in imperfect ecclesiastical situations.

    Now contrast that with this statement of yours, as quoted by Veith, above:

    This is just a start in showing how the Lutheran tradition has answered some of my concerns with the system of evangelicalism dominant in America today.

    Do you see? You’re dividing and separating yourself over all kinds of issues — with American Evangelicalism, that is — rather than persevering in that imperfect (Evangelical) ecclesiastical situation.

    And then you’re turning around and saying, yes, well, but it’s better to stay in this new (imperfect) ecclesiastical situation to which you’ve just moved.

    You found enough imperfections in your past church to cause you to move, but now assert that such imperfections shouldn’t cause you to be concerned in your new church.

    I’m not disagreeing with your leaving Evangelicalism. I just disagree that the argument for leaving has ended now that you’ve made this move.

    In other words: why are you choosing to accept these imperfections (in the ELCA) when you didn’t accept the imperfections of your previous church?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m a day light and likely several dollars short here (exciting goings-on in my house the past week, as some of you know), but Mike (@39), I didn’t understand this statement of yours:

    One of the characteristics of evangelicalism which I have long despised has been the tendency of people, pastors, and congregations to divide and separate themselves over all kinds of issues rather than persevere in imperfect ecclesiastical situations.

    Now contrast that with this statement of yours, as quoted by Veith, above:

    This is just a start in showing how the Lutheran tradition has answered some of my concerns with the system of evangelicalism dominant in America today.

    Do you see? You’re dividing and separating yourself over all kinds of issues — with American Evangelicalism, that is — rather than persevering in that imperfect (Evangelical) ecclesiastical situation.

    And then you’re turning around and saying, yes, well, but it’s better to stay in this new (imperfect) ecclesiastical situation to which you’ve just moved.

    You found enough imperfections in your past church to cause you to move, but now assert that such imperfections shouldn’t cause you to be concerned in your new church.

    I’m not disagreeing with your leaving Evangelicalism. I just disagree that the argument for leaving has ended now that you’ve made this move.

    In other words: why are you choosing to accept these imperfections (in the ELCA) when you didn’t accept the imperfections of your previous church?

  • Patrick Kyle

    Bror, Paul, and SK,

    I don’t presume to speak for Chaplain Mike, and have not spoken with him recently, but there are several reasons he might not have chosen the LCMS. ( And may be too polite to mention.)
    The first and foremost in my mind is our reputation for treating poorly those who wish to join our ranks. In this area our reputation sucks, and we are known as mean spirited and and spiritually prideful.
    I know of an ELCA congregation in southern California that petitioned the PSW District of the LCMS to join our synod. One of our stipulations was that they sign over their church building and property to the Synod so that in the event the congregation disbanded or tried to leave the Synod their property would belong to the LCMS. Nice… That’s a total non starter for anyone with half a brain. Now this congregation is forced to pick between their second and third tier choices for church affiliation.

    I also know two men with excellent educations and substantial ministry experience. One wanted to be a pastor, the other a professor. Both have an outstanding grasp of Lutheran theology.

    To colloquize in they were required to attend our seminary for two years, then go out on a vicarage. The pastor had no children, so he did it, but remarked to me that only about six of his classes really helped him. The other man had a family and tried it for awhile but eventually was forced to quit school and go to work to feed his family.
    After years of experience and seminary, maybe Chaplain Mike doesn’t have the luxury of jumping through our hoops for three years. Maybe the ELCA has an easier ‘on ramp’ to join up.

    Another friend was asked to speak at one of our schools and accepted the invitation. When he flew into town, there was no one there to greet him. He had to find his own way to the hotel. He had to get to the school himself. No one contacted him. When he arrived at the school the administration was unaware that he was coming. They pointed him to the right classroom. He gave his lecture and was thanked by the prof, then was left to his own devices to get back to the airport. His comment to me was ‘Pat, what the hell is wrong with these people?”

    I could multiply these anecdotes many times over, but have chosen a few that come to mind immediately, and chosen incidents that don’t expose those involved to uncomfortable situations. If you think it is my personal opinion, wander back over to Internetmonk and check out the comment thread.
    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/how-the-lutheran-tradition-answers-many-post-evangelical-concerns-3

    Yes, we have great theology, but often lack the grace, humility, and
    common courtesy to make joining with us an appealing option.
    I am not saying for sure that this is why Chap. Mike is reticent to throw in his lot with us, but I’m sure its one of the things he considered.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Bror, Paul, and SK,

    I don’t presume to speak for Chaplain Mike, and have not spoken with him recently, but there are several reasons he might not have chosen the LCMS. ( And may be too polite to mention.)
    The first and foremost in my mind is our reputation for treating poorly those who wish to join our ranks. In this area our reputation sucks, and we are known as mean spirited and and spiritually prideful.
    I know of an ELCA congregation in southern California that petitioned the PSW District of the LCMS to join our synod. One of our stipulations was that they sign over their church building and property to the Synod so that in the event the congregation disbanded or tried to leave the Synod their property would belong to the LCMS. Nice… That’s a total non starter for anyone with half a brain. Now this congregation is forced to pick between their second and third tier choices for church affiliation.

    I also know two men with excellent educations and substantial ministry experience. One wanted to be a pastor, the other a professor. Both have an outstanding grasp of Lutheran theology.

    To colloquize in they were required to attend our seminary for two years, then go out on a vicarage. The pastor had no children, so he did it, but remarked to me that only about six of his classes really helped him. The other man had a family and tried it for awhile but eventually was forced to quit school and go to work to feed his family.
    After years of experience and seminary, maybe Chaplain Mike doesn’t have the luxury of jumping through our hoops for three years. Maybe the ELCA has an easier ‘on ramp’ to join up.

    Another friend was asked to speak at one of our schools and accepted the invitation. When he flew into town, there was no one there to greet him. He had to find his own way to the hotel. He had to get to the school himself. No one contacted him. When he arrived at the school the administration was unaware that he was coming. They pointed him to the right classroom. He gave his lecture and was thanked by the prof, then was left to his own devices to get back to the airport. His comment to me was ‘Pat, what the hell is wrong with these people?”

    I could multiply these anecdotes many times over, but have chosen a few that come to mind immediately, and chosen incidents that don’t expose those involved to uncomfortable situations. If you think it is my personal opinion, wander back over to Internetmonk and check out the comment thread.
    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/how-the-lutheran-tradition-answers-many-post-evangelical-concerns-3

    Yes, we have great theology, but often lack the grace, humility, and
    common courtesy to make joining with us an appealing option.
    I am not saying for sure that this is why Chap. Mike is reticent to throw in his lot with us, but I’m sure its one of the things he considered.

  • Patrick Kyle

    I have worked for a long time to spread Lutheran doctrine and practice to those who have never heard it. Many other Lutheran organizations are also doing this. We (at NRP) hope and pray for another reformation, or awakening, or whatever you want to call it, that brings the clear teachings of the Lutheran tradition front and center in the church at large and adds the Lutheran voice to the conversation. This will be a good thing for both our church body and for other churches. It will be good for non believers to hear it too. May God grant it.
    However, it will be messy. It will drive the purists among us nuts.
    Some will adopt our doctrine and practice entirely and join with us. Others will join various synods and groups that may or may not be in fellowship with us. Many will stay where they are but adopt our doctrine and outlook as circumstances allow. Still others will form their own groups as they discover the riches of our doctrine.
    (People like Tullian Tchvidjian and the Gospel Coalition guys who are discovering Lutheran doctrine and preaching it from their pulpits will probably never convert, still they and their congregations will benefit greatly.)

    Lutheranism and Lutheran tinged doctrine will permeate the landscape in the way that Reformed doctrine does now.
    Surely a lot of people have joined the classical Reformed churches, but many more have adopted the Reformed view in part or in whole, and stayed where they are. That is just the reality of the situation. It will be the same as awareness of Lutheran doctrine takes hold in our culture.

    I am just excited to see people find freedom and forgiveness in Christ, or come to a new understanding of their faith.

    Do I wish they would join us? Yes.

    Am I going to spend time being sad or angry if they don’t? No.

    God is in charge and working through His word. He places each one of us in the body as He sees fit.

  • Patrick Kyle

    I have worked for a long time to spread Lutheran doctrine and practice to those who have never heard it. Many other Lutheran organizations are also doing this. We (at NRP) hope and pray for another reformation, or awakening, or whatever you want to call it, that brings the clear teachings of the Lutheran tradition front and center in the church at large and adds the Lutheran voice to the conversation. This will be a good thing for both our church body and for other churches. It will be good for non believers to hear it too. May God grant it.
    However, it will be messy. It will drive the purists among us nuts.
    Some will adopt our doctrine and practice entirely and join with us. Others will join various synods and groups that may or may not be in fellowship with us. Many will stay where they are but adopt our doctrine and outlook as circumstances allow. Still others will form their own groups as they discover the riches of our doctrine.
    (People like Tullian Tchvidjian and the Gospel Coalition guys who are discovering Lutheran doctrine and preaching it from their pulpits will probably never convert, still they and their congregations will benefit greatly.)

    Lutheranism and Lutheran tinged doctrine will permeate the landscape in the way that Reformed doctrine does now.
    Surely a lot of people have joined the classical Reformed churches, but many more have adopted the Reformed view in part or in whole, and stayed where they are. That is just the reality of the situation. It will be the same as awareness of Lutheran doctrine takes hold in our culture.

    I am just excited to see people find freedom and forgiveness in Christ, or come to a new understanding of their faith.

    Do I wish they would join us? Yes.

    Am I going to spend time being sad or angry if they don’t? No.

    God is in charge and working through His word. He places each one of us in the body as He sees fit.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Patrick, when we have a bloke who on this thread says nothing more intelligent than that the man must have a screw loose for joining the elca, then I. Know *sshole is a problem in our ranks.I have one too.
    I dare say, though that you will find some natiness in the ranks of the elca. I did go and review the comments at Imonk. I don’t know. I’m not as bothered by that discussion as you are.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Patrick, when we have a bloke who on this thread says nothing more intelligent than that the man must have a screw loose for joining the elca, then I. Know *sshole is a problem in our ranks.I have one too.
    I dare say, though that you will find some natiness in the ranks of the elca. I did go and review the comments at Imonk. I don’t know. I’m not as bothered by that discussion as you are.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Bror, its not that I am bothered so much by that particular discussion, but it is indicative of dozens I have heard elsewhere. Though, I really like Chaplain Mike and have enjoyed working with him, and sad to see we weren’t as gracious about the news of his becoming Lutheran as we could have been.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Bror, its not that I am bothered so much by that particular discussion, but it is indicative of dozens I have heard elsewhere. Though, I really like Chaplain Mike and have enjoyed working with him, and sad to see we weren’t as gracious about the news of his becoming Lutheran as we could have been.

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