August 17, 2009

For Immediate Release:

Reform leader expresses concern for future of ELCA

“My Lutheran heart aches at the thought of what may result from votes at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly,” the president of the nationwide reform group, WordAlone Network, said Monday after the first session of the assembly.

Pastor Jaynan L. Clark, president of WordAlone, which calls itself the faithful opposition, said the assembly is expected to vote on a proposed social statement on sexuality, on blessing relationships of same-sex couples and changes to requirements for those seeking to be ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Monday night, assembly members voted down attempts to require a two-thirds majority, which was the super-majority that WordAlone supported.

Clark said that depending on how the votes go, the churchwide assembly may well isolate the denomination from most of the Christian church, particularly if the Bible’s authority is rejected.

“These proposed changes don’t reflect a leap of faith but rather denominational suicide,” she said.

“This is a bit like voting on gravity and defying it. You can keep voting and maybe even convince yourself it’s your right to do so. But sooner or later you’re going to crash. Maybe that’s the reason we refer to original sin as the ‘Fall’,” she said.

“God will not be mocked,” she said, “God is going to work, no matter how the votes go.”

The Word is both law and gospel, both salvation and judgment. Like a faithful parent the Word both comforts and disciplines. It provides boundaries and guidance at the same time as it grants us freedom. The freedom of a Christian includes self restraint not just self expression.

She wouldn’t guess how the votes will go.

“Speculation isn’t helpful or constructive,” Clark said. “Whatever the vote totals reflect, this is a lose/lose proposition for everyone. No winners, we all lose because we have drifted off course away from the Word and into uncharted waters.

“For centuries the Christian church has been referred to as a boat. Well, this ELCA boat is considering a vote to pull up its anchor, which is the Word of God, and exchange it for the millstone that Jesus spoke quite clearly about. The natural law of gravity will prevail.”

She said she thinks the majority of lay members are more traditional than ELCA leadership in their outlook on the Bible’s authority and they will be very disappointed if the assembly approves the proposals.

“Who gave the ELCA the authority to brush over God’s statements on marriage beginning with the first book of the Bible?” she asked. “When God created the world, he created humans as man and woman. Then, the Bible tells us how God wants humans to live. Sure we all fail and fall far short but it is a huge leap to move from confessing those failures and seeking forgiveness to holding them up to be blessed.

“What right has an individual to question God’s judgment, much less a denomination? WordAlone has been defending the authority of the Bible for many years, and no matter what decisions are made this week, we will continue to stand on the Holy Scriptures!”

She said that at their April convention WordAlone members approved a resolution entitled “Usurped Authority.” It expresses concern about the ELCA’s voting on matters over which the churchwide assembly has no legitimate authority.

The WordAlone resolution asks the assembly not to vote on the sexuality proposals and to defeat them if the assembly “insists” on voting on them. The WordAlone document also asks the assembly to affirm “the Scriptures’ clear, consistent norms for marriage and sexuality.”

“How can a denomination vote to 'unsin' sin?” she asked.