Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: Stay or go?
I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 

Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Isaiah 6:8 (KJV)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stay or go?

Over at Cyberbrethren LCMS pastor Paul McCain has a post concerning the ELCA's move to place gay/lesbian clergy on its roster.

One of the comments on that post was from a Lutheran who was a member of a faithful confessional ELCA congregation. He was distressed at the thought of possibly having to leave when his pastor and congregation were still faithful to the Gospel, and I cannot say that I blame him.

But there are several problems for any faithful Christian who is contemplating staying in an ELCA congregation:

1. The ELCA is desperate to prevent a mass exodus of members and congregations. Any Christian who is faithful to the Gospel and stays in the ELCA will be cynically used by the ELCA's leadership as "proof" that what they did was not so bad. Be advised that if you stay in the ELCA your continued presence will be used to advance a lie.

2. Some faithful Christians are deeply distressed by the ELCA's apostasy, but feel that they should stay and continue to bear witness to the Truth. The problem with such witnessing is that likely it will be ineffective, and perhaps even counterproductive. It would like going to a bar on Saturday night to speak out against the horrors of alcoholism. In one sense a bar is the perfect location to do this, since the place is probably hip-deep in people who need to hear the message. But a bar is the wrong venue for such an undertaking, since peer pressure is very tough to overcome in a crowd. More likely is that you will be mocked and ridiculed (if anyone pays attention to you), and in the heat of the witnessing you will be provoked into doing something foolish that undermines your case.

Just as a drunk has to hit bottom before he will listen to a cure, the apostasy of the ELCA's has to produce disaster before the leadership will repent. Like the patrons of a bar the ELCA's leadership is drunk on their own arrogance. They are in no mood to listen to the party-poopers and squares who are led by the pesky carpenter from Nazareth. To the extent they will listen to you, their attitude will be, "We have the power and credentials, and you do not." Meanwhile, your presence will give them what they do not deserve: the illusion that the decision of last August was no cause for concern, or else you would have left.

3. There is a belief among some confessional Christians in the ELCA that whatever happens, their own congregation will be untouched. This is probably the most dangerous illusion of all. The ELCA controls the call process, and when your confessional Lutheran pastor leaves he or she can be replaced with someone more willing to parrot the ELCA's line. In terms of earthly power the ELCA's leadership holds all the cards, and can shape any congregation they choose. As tempting as it may be, the apostasy of the ELCA is not a problem that can be booted down the road in hopes that it will somehow go away. The evil that is now consuming the ELCA will reach the doorsteps of your church - and probably sooner than you think.

4. There is one more problem to consider. While you may be witnessing to the ELCA's leadership they will be witnessing to you on behalf of their new god of secular politics. There is the danger that peer pressure can bring you to reject the Gospel in favor of what the ELCA is now offering. Remember that the devil does the most damage when he can wear you down. In an ELCA increasingly empty of Christians you will find yourself more and more isolated and vulnerable to temptation. Believe it, brothers and sisters in Christ!

If you do decide to stay, surround yourself with other Christians and resist calls to "go along to get along". Looking the other way is an engraved invitation to disaster and the last thing you should do. If you choose to stay and continue the fight, make sure that you actually fight. And pray without ceasing! Remember the words of 1 Peter 5:8 : Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

These are my views. My wife and I left the ELCA because we did not want to lend any support to the ELCA's rejection of the Gospel. We now pray for repentance by the ELCA's leadership, and we also pray for any Christians still in the ELCA. We urge everyone else to do the same.