The Rev. CJ Conner, Lutheran pastor, author, and director of Aspire Ministries in Dodge City Kansas, calls for official talks to begin between Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and North American Lutheran Churches. Both denominations grew out of a split within the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America beginning in 1999.
Rev. Conner said, “Today we are holding vigil at the death-bed of American Lutheranism. I believe Lutherans have been entrusted with preserving the rich heritage of the Reformation, which began when Dr. Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of his Wittenberg Church calling for the reform of the Roman Catholic Church 500 years ago on October 31, 1517.”
“Since the cultural tumult of the 1970’s, American Lutherans have been in chaos and confusion. Then, what began as a grand experiment 17 years ago, Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ has been unable to chart a steady course with Reformation integrity. The denomination has been taken hostage by a small handful of people who have held power for 17 years now in a poorly contrived ecclesiastical dictatorship that favors Gnosticism and Schwarmer Enthusiasm and embraces a radically libertine anti-clerical orientation, eschewing reason and marginalizing legitimate Doctors of the Lutheran Church.”
LCMC has essentially abandoned and alienated the core teachings of the Protestant Reformation, namely:
1. That Christians are saved by the imputed righteousness from the Cross Alone instead of the righteousness of works held by LCMC.
2. That we are saved by Christ Alone apart from the spiritualist or supernatural Episcopacy that LCMC embraces.
3. That we find the source and norm of Christian faith in the Word Alone rather than the disembodied words of “The Lord told Me!” where classes of Christians have developed in LCMC and the leaders believe they have prophetic and anointed knowledge of God spoken directly to them by the Holy Spirit in a secret knowing that nobody else has access to.
4. That we are saved by Faith Alone, rather than by the mastery of the secret knowledge of the light within that a vast majority of LCMC congregations and leaders embrace.
“For at least 15 years, the leadership of LCMC has been unwilling to have real discussion and dialogue about these urgent issues of the Reformation. They use the flat structure of the organization to avoid accountability in the intellectual, academic, and spiritual pursuit of upholding Reformation principles. LCMC has long lacked the theological intellect among the leadership to think clearly and deeply about these matters. The people who have tightly controlled the direction of the denomination for the last 17 years view any discussion about their theology or how they fit into the future of American Lutheranism as a threat to their absolute, unchecked power.
LCMC leaders will argue that they can’t begin talks or discussions about the direction of American Lutheranism because they cannot represent congregations. The fact of the matter is, LCMC represents congregations and pastors whenever it suits their goals of alienating and ostracizing Lutherans who are not radical charismatic fundigelicals.”
While the North American Lutheran Churches (NALC) have also departed from the core principles of the Protestant Reformation by allowing the specter of the long-rejected Historic Episcopacy to poke it’s nose beneath their constitutional tent, the organization has not rejected as much of the Reformation as LCMC has come to reject. NALC embraces the theological discourse that is always necessary to keep American Lutheranism within the streams of Reformation Principles.
Unlike LCMC, NALC values the Doctors of the Lutheran Church who are essential to making sense out of the Reformation in our immediate historical context. LCMC elevates Calvinists, Baptists, Ana-Baptists, Fundamentalists, Charismatics, and Radical Evangelicals as the ideal model and to the exclusion of Lutherans of the Reformation.
Rev. CJ Conner proposes on this 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, therefore, that the Augustana District of the LCMC establish and lead the development of an ecumenical council between the NALC and the LCMC that addresses the issues I’ve outlined above, and any others. I also call on all LCMC and NALC congregations to enthusiastically welcome and prepare for the next stage in the movement to reclaim American Lutheranism from its death bed.
For the sake of the future of American Lutheranism, Pastors and Churches may all need to consider what to do next if Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ continues to reject the principles of Cross Alone, Christ Alone, Faith Alone, and Word Alone.
To find out more about the unresolved issues of the Protestant Reformation in the United States, listen to the podcast series, “At the Deathbed of American Lutheranism” found at www.aspiredodgecity.com, and read the resources available at www.crossalone.us
(Source: Christian Newswire)