Sunday, November 21, 2010

Discretionary Matters?

Police officers have a wide range of discretion when dealing with minor matters of the law. Simple forfeiture offenses, such as traffic and municipal ordinance violations, can be dealt with as much as a citation or as little as a verbal warning. Misdemeanors require that the officer refer the matter to the District Attorney to determine further prosecution, but the officer may order the suspect to appear without making a formal arrest. Felonies are the most serious and as such, there is no gray area, and the police officer must make a custodial arrest, incarcerate the offender and even discretion by the District Attorney is minimized. A bishop in the Lutheran Church has the responsibility to teach Scripture and guard traditional and orthodox doctrine in order to ensure the preservation of the historic teachings of the Christian religion. A bishop is to act as the church’s primary enforcement officer and to discipline those that teach false doctrine. While there may be some discretion allowed in the enforcement of certain minor morality and ethics issues, matters of salvation are set in stone. The foundation of our faith, Jesus Christ, that he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and was truly human, yet truly God, born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, was resurrected, and sits at the right hand of God and that Scripture is indeed the inspired word of God are the truths that bind our faith. These truths are self evident and are not subject to debate.

The head enforcement officer for the ELCA is Bishop Mark Hanson. Bp. Hanson said at a town hall meeting in December of 2009, “The understanding we have of homosexuality today does not seem to be reflected at all in the context of the biblical writers. Therefore, Lutherans should consider more modern views on sexual orientation.” In 2005 he declared, “Two "hermeneutics" or paradigms are at work among the members of the ELCA that make agreement difficult on scriptural and theological matters. There is a "traditional approach" and a "contextual approach" in interpreting Scripture, both of which are valid and irreconcilable”, Hanson told the bishops. “There are two irreconcilable "paradigms" in which Christians differ in their understandings of the Christian tradition and their interpretation of Scripture, creeds and the confessions”, he said. "Do we expect a resolution to provide a bridge between two extremes?" Hanson asked the bishops. "We Lutherans have come to say that when something is 'paradoxical' that we're going to live in the paradox at the foot of the cross and not force ourselves to decide it with a vote." Yet, this officer of the body of Christ, did not adopt this stand and did, in fact, stand by and allow this “paradox” to be decided with a vote.

This bishop, charged to protect and uphold the authority of Scripture, places himself in authority over God’s Word. By advocating that a “contextual approach” is a valid method to use in the interpretation of Scripture violates his oath to protect the orthodox doctrine of Christianity. This “contextual approach” allows for alternate interpretations of Scripture and thereby, elevates human reasoning and experience above our Lord’s intent. It is clear that God said “No” but, Bp. Hanson apparently believes that God really didn’t understand the future ramifications when He inspired those uneducated, biased, unenlightened authors of Scripture. And of course, when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ said in Mark 10:6-9, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female’ 7 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. 9 Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.” According to the rationalization of Bp. Hanson, Jesus just did not understand as much as we do today. This is not only false doctrine, this is genuine heresy. Jesus Christ was fully man and fully God. These commands have no need of man’s interpretation. They come right from the mouth of our Lord. How can one with the highest office of the church, responsible to protect proper doctrine and the historic teaching of Christianity, advocate for the complete disregard our Lord’s command, while recommending replacing it with a more modern, humanistic view?

In 2 Peter 1:20-21 the Apostle Paul tells a different story, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” From the TNIV study Bible, “In the production of Scripture, both God and humans were active participants. God was the source of the content of Scripture, so that what it says is what God has said. But, the human authors also spoke actively; they were more than recorders, yet what they said came from God. Although actively speaking, “they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Why do the leaders and scholars of the ELCA persist in doubting the veracity of the authors of Scripture? What do they expect to accomplish by lifting up human reasoning and experience above the word of God?

The ELCA is likely to collapse upon its own weight as more and more of the faithful congregations choose to leave this misguided denomination. The promotion of universalism, the gospel of affirmation, social justice and tolerance are leading the ELCA and its membership down a slippery slope heading toward the spiritual destruction of its membership. If Bp. Hanson were a police officer, he would be subject to charges of dereliction of duty. Bp. Hanson shamelessly pleads that we must maintain our unity, falsely proclaiming that the sensible thing is to not forsake one another and that the church, the ELCA, is the body of Christ and therefore, not ours to dismember. Unfortunately, the ELCA has drifted so far away from the Christian faith that it can no longer be considered part of the body of Christ. It is altogether something different. Colossians 2:22-23, “These rules are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” The doctrinal shifts promoted by the ELCA are simply earthly rules, conceived by false teachers, are certainly not of divine origin and do nothing to control our sinful nature, but instead encourage it. We follow Christ, not the heretical leaders of a wayward denomination. It’s time to turn our backs on this wayward denomination, praying that our rejection causes them to return to the Lord.

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