For those who have had the experience of leaving their office and daily routine behind for any length of time, it is easy to imagine the avalanche that falls upon one’s desk as they return. This week has been one such experience. Last week I journeyed to Columbus, Ohio with several colleagues in order to attend a Lutheran theological conference. It has been eight days now since the close of that gathering, and nearly a week since the conclusion of the constituting convocation of the North American Lutheran Church. These were two separate events held at different venues; I attended both. Finally, five days into the work week I am able to clear my desk of its clutter and my mind of its distractions, and begin pondering all I had heard and seen in Ohio.
To be honest, the theological conference was absolutely amazing and refreshing. Each presentation was filled with sound orthodox and traditional teaching, something missing in my experiences within the ELCA for some time now. Our finest Lutheran theologians gathered in one place to offer their insight and wisdom concerning matters of faith. Presenters included the likes of Dr. Carl Braaten, Dr. Robert Benne and Dr. Robert W. Jenson along with several others. Topics included The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Speaking To, Of and For the Triune God, and You Cannot Be the Church of Christ without Christ. I believe that all who attended the conference came to hear these theologians speak a word of truth concerning God’s revelation to us through Christ. Sadly, the ELCA has marginalized these learned professors in favor of a new and progressive less than traditionally orthodox voice.
But let’s not kid ourselves, even as so many rostered leaders and lay persons came to hear the voice of orthodoxy and tradition, nearly all were also gathered in Ohio because our denomination has taken a drastic left turn, discounting centuries of consistent biblical teaching and Christian Church doctrine. Some traveled great distances to be there, others only a few miles, yet the distance covered by most between the newly adopted ELCA teaching and orthodoxy was certainly expansive.
As for my experience? Well, like I said earlier, today is my first chance to reflect on the conference. Actually, I believe that in the quietness of last night the impact of the message I heard and the theological implications concerning our denomination’s current malaise fell on me like a ton of bricks. I’ll post my comments on each lecture in coming days. But as I read over the notes I took, and weigh them in contrast to events following the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, I begin to realize just how far our church has wandered. Who could have imagined that our ELCA would actually engage in a blasphemous attempt to worship such as the Rite of Reception held on July 25, 2010 in San Francisco? Even the thought of ELCA bishops attending a service which includes a prayer to the goddess Sophia, or our mother whose “wisdom unfolds from deep with us” leaves me utterly dismayed…no, angry.
I can’t help but fearfully wonder where our church will be in a few more years, especially since it has turned away the theologians who once trained our pastors and other rostered leaders. Events such as these leave me with a sick feeling in my gut and a heart breaking at the loss of the tradition and witness that has been handed down through the apostles. These feelings won’t soon go away.
These are my opinions and I own them. Anyone who would like to draw their own conclusions might want to listen to the audio recordings of each lecture. They are posted on Lutheran CORE’s website.