Monday, June 4, 2012

The Devil's Advocate

In the 1997 movie, Devil’s Advocate, Al Pacino skillfully plays the role of Attorney John Milton, the human form that Satan has taken. Near the climax of the movie, Satan was attempting to convince his son, attorney Kevin Lomax, played by Keanu Reeves, to join forces with him. Pacino was describing how he, Satan, was going to take over the world and win the battle against God through the law profession. Reeves asks him, “Why lawyers? Why the law?” Pacino answers, “Because, the law my boy, puts us into everything. It's the ultimate backstage pass. It's the new priesthood, baby. Did you know there are more students in law school ...than lawyers walking the Earth? We're coming out...guns blazing! The two of you...all of us, acquittal after acquittal after acquittal...until the stench of it reaches so high and far into chokes the whole f----g lot of them!” The ELCA, in an effort to maintain their grip on the things of this world, while disregarding God’s law, have decided that man’s law can be used to their advantage. Following in the footsteps of their ecclesiastic bothers in the Episcopal Church, where church property belongs to the greater church organization, they have decided to attempt to seize the assets of churches that choose to leave. Those congregations attempting to break fellowship are taken to court in an effort to wrest whatever assets this greedy organization can take. After all it takes a lot of money to run their bloated bureaucracy. Abandoning their responsibility to preach the Gospel to the world and bring the lost to Christ is also apparently quite expensive.

Some of the churches affected by this new approach are Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, WI, where Bishop Duane Peterson, is leading 70 congregants that support the ELCA, into court in an effort to seize the congregation’s ample assets. Initially, Peterson offered support to the "Synodically Authorized Worshiping Community" by starting a mission church, sharing facilities with First Lutheran, another ELCA church in Eau Claire, agreeing to find an alternate worship site by February 1st 2011. When the pastor of First Lutheran held fast to the deadline, he was removed by the synod, throwing another congregation into turmoil. Peterson then decided to facilitate, what became known as Amazing Grace Lutheran, into bringing legal action against Grace Lutheran. While Peterson fights Grace Lutheran from breaking fellowship with the ELCA, he himself is embroiled in a divorce action with his wife. Even though ELCA church policy advises clergy involved in divorce proceedings to refrain from active ministry, this does not deter this champion of the ELCA from his attempt to cause strife, division and suffering for this congregation that voted unanimously (322-0) to break fellowship with the ELCA.

Redeemer Lutheran in East Falls, Philadelphia, PA was sued by the Southeastern Pennsylvanian Synod of the ELCA in an attempt to take control of congregation’s assets and property. In 2007, Synod Council assessed the fragile status of Redeemer, including its diminished attendance records, income and expense figures, and approved a resolution authorizing Bishop Burkat to take Redeemer under "involuntary synodical administration" in accordance with Section 13.24 of the Synod Constitution, in effect, ordering the church council to turn over the keys, checkbook and vacate the property. The ELCA ultimately locked out the Redeemer congregation and there are still counter suits by the Redeemer congregation to regain their church property, valued at over $1.5 million. I’m certain that the property value had little to do with the ELCA effort to seize that church and its assets.

Life Lutheran Church in Richmond, CA, an ELCA congregation, one of only two congregations serving Chinese-Americans in the area, were given a building that was closed by the ELCA and formerly served by the current pastor of Ebenezer Lutheran Church, also known as “Her Church”. After beginning the process of breaking fellowship with the ELCA, Life Lutheran was taken to court by the ELCA in an effort to reclaim the property and evict them from the building. Life Lutheran left the ELCA in 2011 and joined LCMC. Life Lutheran continues to worship at their church, but legal proceedings are still in process.

So, perhaps the stench of these legal actions, initiated by the so very tolerant, loving and welcoming organization commonly referred to as the ELCA, is reaching the realm of Heaven. This just may be the new priesthood for this family of believers that cling to an organization while relegating our Lord to what they consider His rightful place, just below the enlightened leaders of this misguided organization. Reject the apostasy preached by the leaders of what was once one of God’s churches. Hold fast to the truth so that you can recognize Satan at work in this world. Pray unceasingly for God’s children to be rescued from the pit that has become the ELCA. 1 Peter 2:7-10, “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

1 comment:

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