Herb Chilstrom, first bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, founded in 1988, is “relieved” that conservatives are leaving.
Now those of us who remain in the ELCA can get on with our primary mission of telling everyone — everyone — “Jesus loves you. You are welcome in this church.”
Pr. Jonathan Sorum replies.
You are glad to get rid of us. Now, you say, you can get on with your “primary mission of telling everyone — everyone — ‘Jesus loves you. You are welcome in this church.’” Precisely! This is the false gospel you have chosen for yourself. In this gospel there is no repentance or new birth. We don’t need Jesus (to use your word, he is one of the “non-essentials”), because we are basically good and don’t need a Savior. We only need to accept ourselves, as God accepts us. And we don’t need to receive the Holy Spirit, because we all already have the Holy Spirit within us, speaking through our own deepest sense of who we are. Nor do we need preaching, because once we know we are welcome, that’s all we need to know. The church, too, is dispensable because everyone is in principle already included and people don’t really have any reason to gather except to celebrate themselves and they can do that in many contexts using many different symbols and images—the goddess, the Buddha, the divine that is within us, whatever. Yes, in the so-called church that you have helped fashion, everybody is included.
Except us. You have no room in your new church for self-confessed sinners who want to listen to Jesus Christ alone. So we have no choice but to go on, grieving for the wreck of our church, but joyful because we have Jesus and filled with hope because his Spirit always goes before us and creates a new future for his people. We can admit that we, too, have a feeling of relief when we find ourselves in God’s church, where we feel ourselves supported in confessing the gospel and not undermined at every turn. But that you and so many others have turned aside to go your own way is in no way a relief. It is an unmitigated sorrow. We will never release you. We will continue to call you to Christ and to pray for you, urgently beseeching God that you may turn and live.
And Anita Hill is back in the good graces of the ELCA. She had been disciplined for being lesbian, but now the ELCA fully embraces homosexuality, and so had a public ceremony to welcome her. The ceremony began with an apology for once teaching Biblical doctrine.