On June 5th of 2011 my church, Shepherd of the Hills, in Richfield, Wisconsin had its final vote to leave the ELCA. One hundred and sixty one congregants attended the special meeting and one hundred and fifty eight voted to leave the ELCA, affiliate with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and become members of the Augustana District of the LCMC. While I praise God for the unity our congregation showed to uphold the authority of Scripture, it still saddens me that the church body that I grew up with has fallen so far away from our Lord’s teachings. One of the things that drew my family to an ELCA church was the fact that they welcome anyone who is baptized and wishes a deeper relationship with Christ to partake in the sacrament of communion. Who knows when someone is on the verge of coming to the Lord, but doctrine prohibiting non-members to take communion may turn them away from Him? But, this welcoming spirit has replaced the Holy Spirit in the ELCA's ministry. Acceptance of secular ideals has replaced the authority of Scripture. Tolerance of diversity of beliefs has replaced sound Lutheran doctrine. And worst of all, the misguided love of neighbor has been lifted up and substituted for the love of our Lord.
How could we continue to “walk with” a denomination that places themselves in authority of Scripture? While it would have been much easier to simply remain within the ELCA as a congregation true to the Lord, we knew that the errant teachings that have seemingly replaced the normatives of our faith, would eventually appear at our church’s doorstep. We had already recently experienced a sermon by an ELCA pastor that our congregation has been supporting as a missionary for 8 years, who actually believes that there are many ways to heaven and that all religions offer a valid path to salvation. Another ELCA pastor was upset that our congregation was so united in the decision and that so little dissent was actually unhealthy. 1 Corinthians 1:10, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” That so many held true to the very foundation of our faith should be commended, not criticized. As so many pastors and members have accepted the false doctrines promoted by the leadership of the ELCA, we realized that it would become increasingly difficult to remain as a member of a church body that no longer held to the classic Lutheran teaching.
When our bishop attended a meeting of our church council two weeks prior to the final vote, he could not understand why we felt it was necessary to leave the ELCA. He said that our differences made the ELCA stronger and that there was a place for Lutherans that believe in the classic teachings of our faith. While he was angry with us and said that it would be his prayer that our vote failed, we were sad that the decisions of the leadership of the ELCA forced us to seek a new synod to walk with and further pray that he would come to realize why we sought to break fellowship. He stated that he believed in the Creeds and the Augsburg confessions just like us. Problem is, there are fewer and fewer of those who uphold the authority of Scripture within the ELCA. And as more and more congregations and pastors that adhere to the tenets of our faith leave, the rocket sled to hell is picking up speed. Soon, there will be no one left within the ELCA trying to turn the leaders back to the narrow path. So many of our brothers and sisters are at risk, we cannot simply turn our backs and walk away. Our congregation intends to maintain some of our relationships with those ministries of the ELCA that continue to preach the Gospel of Christ and reach out to the lost. This decision was not universally approved, with one blogger likening that decision as leaving, but keeping one foot in the door. Some of the ELCA’s ministries actually do God’s work and those that have a connection with those ministries should consider preserving those relationships, even if the congregation votes to breaks fellowship with the ELCA.
As universalism, the false gospel of affirmation, bound conscience, and social justice overtake the doctrines proclaimed in the Augsburg confessions and creeds, the ELCA will drift further and further away from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The black and white instructions given to us by God in the words of the Holy Bible are becoming more and more blurred by the decisions to alter doctrine to placate the worldly desires of those that liken themselves as more enlightened than God Himself. 1 Corinthians 1:18-20, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” To maintain that these doctrinal shifts are due to “God saying a new thing” only promote that the belief is that man himself is superior to God. Proverbs 30:5-6, “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” The “new things” that the leaders of the ELCA advance, are lies that do nothing but prop up secular ideals and lead those that accept them closer to Satan’s doorstep. Our help is in the Lord. Every word of Scripture is flawless and we rely on His word in all matters of faith and theology, not some church that is doing nothing more than denying Him!