Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Losing my Lutheran Identity

At last week's biannual churchwide assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America there were at lot of changes discussed and voted in for my Lutheran Church.

Included in those changes is going to be a new book of worship that will go into printing in 2006. The process of re-writing our book of worship has been a five year process called "Renewing Worship".

A preassembly report called Recomendations: Renewing Worship mentions several assumptions that the unfolding process has been shaped by. The second of these assumptions I found rather amusing.

2. Lutheran identity. Worship renewal that is
authentically Lutheran contributes to a more broadly
shared sense of identity. In addition to the Lutheran sense
of a freedom that welcomes variety, there is a confessional
and historical identity that contributes to the shape and
content of Lutheran worship. Renewing Worship honors
both the instinct for freedom and the value of worshiping
in ways that are consistent with our church’s teaching.

To hear the ELCA talk about our Lutheran Identity is laughable. To date the ELCA has signed agreements of full communion with:
  • Lutheran World Federation
  • The Episcopal Church, USA
  • The Moravian Church in America
  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • Reformed Church in America
  • United Church of Christ

The latest assembly found the ELCA once again diluting our beliefs, traditions, and customs in order to woo another church into full communion with the ELCA. This time it is the United Methodist Church.

So I have to ask? What is the ELCA and what is our Lutheran identity? If we are in full communion agreement with so many different churches how do we keep track of our Lutheran identity?

I just don't see how we can be authentically Lutheran when we are also Episcopal, Moravian, Presbyterian, Reformed, United and maybe Methodist. Perhaps we should change our name from the ELCA to the Evangelical Lutheran Episcopal Moravian Presbyterian Reformed United Methodist Church of America (ELEPMPRUMCA).

As I said here I once again find myself watching my church wander off into the wilderness without me. I have nothing against the Methodists, but if the ELCA really wants to get as many churchs into common communion with themselves maybe the should start with the members of the Word Alone Network. It seems self-defeating for an organization like the ELCA to be out courting other churchs when they can't even come to agreement with such a large portion of thier own membership.

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