In the October 2012 Lutheran Magazine, the featured article is titled Lutherans and Politics, the “two Kingdoms” and putting the needs of others first. The article, written by Darrell H. Jodock, an ELCA pastor who teaches at Gustavus Aldophus College in Minnesota, starts inauspiciously enough, with a tale about his father who got involved in local politics. So, like most of the essays published by proxies of the ELCA, it contains some truth and sound doctrinal premises. But, the central segment of the article does not focus on those truths and sound doctrine. Instead, Jodock decides to rewrite history, inserting his opinions by stating that Martin Luther “advocated freedom of conscience in matters of religious belief.” He goes on to state that Luther believed that “individuals were free to hold theological ideas that disagreed with the church’s doctrines but not to teach them publicly. Americans have, rightly I think, broadened the concept of religious liberty.” Some Americans have indeed replaced the wisdom and will of our Creator with their own misguided opinions and ideas.
Luther stated, in his testimony at the Diet at Worms, Germany in 1521, “…I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.” How one can draw the conclusion that Jodock infers in his essay, is absolutely mind boggling. But, when one wishes to promote a narrative leading to a desired result, the ends are often deemed to justify the means. In fact, Luther did nothing to indicate that he advocated for the freedom of conscience in matters of religious belief or the freedom to hold theological ideas that were contrary to proper doctrine. In one particular instance Luther did chastise his fellow priests at his parish for deciding to serve both the host and wine at Holy Communion while he was away from Wittenberg. Since some congregants did not wish to take the wine, he stated that their weak conscience should be respected and those congregants should not be forced to take both the host and wine. To extrapolate that Luther advocated for individuals to hold theological ideas that were contrary to church doctrine is patently false. Nothing in his writings would indicate this conclusion.
It gets even better as the essay progresses. Jodock states, “For example, Christians bless marriages, but marriage itself is a matter of the state.” Apparently, to Jodock marriage is no longer a sacrament of the church. He goes on, “..the primary question for voters should not be what the Christian view of marriage is but what serves the interest of the community as a whole…But the question of what compelling interest the state has in reserving marriage for heterosexuals deserves careful consideration.” Jesus said in Matthew 19:4-6, “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” It is true that our Lord and Savior did not speak of homosexuality in the Gospels, but He made it abundantly clear that marriage is reserved for one male and one female.
Jodock advocates that Lutheran tradition instructs us to focus on specific problems experienced by real people such as, “How can we help those victims of violence who are seeking political asylum in our country and are housed in our jails.” What???? To date, I have found no one meeting the above criteria imprisoned in US jails. Sounds like something any good ELCA Lutheran should be up in arms about, but this is just another patently false claim made by Jodock. The essay continues with an admonishment to the untruths that seem to assail us from all sides in our political rhetoric. “We remember, for example, the false impressions created by describing as “death panels” the proposal in Congress to fund conversations with a doctor about responsible end-of-life decisions.” The untruth about this statement is that the “death panels” that Jodock asserts are benign and normal conversations with their primary care physician are nothing of the sort. These “death panels” he describes are actually bureaucrats that sit in judgment and decide who will be approved for extraordinary measures to prolong life, having the authority to deny treatment to those deemed no longer worth the cost due to age in particular. Jodock cites another example, although he cites no specific circumstances, …”many false claims about refugees and immigrants." What false claims he is speaking of is left up the reader of this essay to invent.
No progressive essay would be complete without reference to the 99% and the evil 1%. Citing an unidentified study, he bemoans the inequities in incomes between the top 1 percent and the rest of the country. Economic inequity on both a national and international level with the predictable rant about changing consumer habits on a global scale. Then it is back at one of his pet peeves, the unfair immigration policies that the US imposes upon those seeking to enter this country against the law. While Jodock acknowledges that government is a gift from God, he implicitly ignores Scripture in this matter. 1 Peter 2:13-14, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” Jodock concludes the essay by returning to more of a Scriptural bent, lulling the trusting reader into believing that the content of the entire essay is also Scripturally based.
When the leaders of the ELCA allow essays such as this, that are littered with untruths and misguided opinions, their members are put at risk. We are sheep of our Lord’s flock and we inherently trust that the leaders of God’s church are led by the Holy Spirit and that their teaching is necessarily God’s will for us. If only the leaders of the ELCA would get back to doing God’s work with their hands by saving the lost and bringing them to the Lord, rather that advocating for the things of this world. 1 Peter 1:24-25, “For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”