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Is the ELCA Lutheran? [Paperback]

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Pages   216
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.8" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 2004
Publisher   Elderberry Press (OR)
ISBN  1932762272  
EAN  9781932762273  

Availability  0 units.

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It appears to me that the ELCA is quietly accomplishing a mini-revolution in Lutheran practice. They are counting on the general reluctance of the clergy to address any potentially divisive issue with their members, and the sleepy confidence of members that everything is going to be all right in the end. One day we'll wake up and it will be a done deal. Yet there is enough coverage of the issues in The Lutheran magazine and other media that the ELCA cannot be accused of maintaining a blackout. Our congregation has not subscribed to The Lutheran for a long time. It caused too many telephone calls to the church office every time an issue hit the mailboxes, which tells you something.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
How Sad  May 26, 2007
Yes, we are Lutheran. We subscribe to the basic doctrines of Martin Luther and his core for reformation. This book seemed to completely ignore what these doctrine are, as outlined in Luther's writings. I wonder if the author has even picked up a copy of the the 95 Theses. And more importantly, we are Christian. We just tend to show it with our love for our fellow human being. We are not quick to jump on the bandwagons of the day, as some of the other reviews would have us do. And we certainly withhold judgment.

Martin Luther was about getting closer to the meaning of the Word. That has not changed. And this sort of ant-Christian attack on the good people who seek to show the love of Christ in this world is unfortunate.
: ( --This is my unhappy face  Dec 7, 2006
The whole premiss of this book is rather sad (as well as most of the comments made praising it). I urge all prospective buyers to not form your opinions on such propaganda, but rather by actually visiting different congregations and seeing things as they are. Lutherans should not be attacking each other - bring back the peaceful discussion.
This book was written before the decisive defeat of the move to permit practicing homosexual into the clergy and allow "blessings" on same-sex couples. Since the individual synods rejected such moves and the national assembly confirmed those rejections, much of the rancor has dissipated within the ELCA. It is also fair to say the "pro-reform" bishops lost their nerve with the unexpected strength of the opposition and the serious prospect of schism within the American Episcopal Church. Naturally, the "pro-reform" party still seeks more "prayer and dialogue" in order that the door would not be definitely closed; but only time will tell. Frankly, the average ELCA Lutheran is tired of the issue and feels the Church "missed the bullet" which would have precipitated in a civil war. They are not interested in introducing anything which could prove to be cataclysmic.

While there is a kind of peace for now, what all the disagreements point to is a basic conflict in how Scripture is read and explained. Truth be known: there are actually very few "literalists" within whatever variety of Lutheran Church you look into. Almost all Lutherans are open to one school of Biblical scholarship or another. Instead, it is more useful to speak of a continuum of "high" to "low" views of Scripture. Those of the "high" view tend to be respectful of academic Biblical scholarship--even the historical/critical school--but ultimately believe that Scripture is inspired. Those of the "low" view tend to view Scripture as human-made and not divinely inspired--or inspired only in the loosest sense. Naturally, there are degrees along each side of the continuum; but the description holds up pretty well. The ramifications come out in the question of how seriously to take the actual written text of Scripture and what weight to give individual experience in discovering the "truth". Those of the "low" view tend to speak of discovering what Scripture has to say in light of the "modern context". More to the point, what was true at the time a particular passage was written may not be true today. Instead, the focus should not be on the particulars within the passage, but with the underlying theme as we understand it today. Such a theme may in fact overrule the apparent lesson of the passage. Those of a more radical bent will hold that there is no objective truth in Scripture except that which is discovered to be "true for me". Those of a "high" view accept the human origins of Scripture; but also believe that Scripture came about by the intentionality of God. Thus the written text is taken seriously. Not every piece of Scripture is of equal value and this is where the proper division of Law and Gospel is helpful. In this view, scholarship is respected when it helps explain the meaning of Scripture. Scholarship which destroys meaning and is hostile to the devotional use of Scripture is viewed with critical suspicion. As opposed to those of the radical "low" view, "high" view folk hold the God's truth is true whether it is experienced or not. While there is rarely a Lutheran who is a "pure" high or low, there is actually very little middle ground between the two sides. What is at stake is not just how to interpret any particular passage of Scripture; it is a conflict on what meanings will be assigned to the world around us. Taken on a national scale, it is easy to see why the ELCA finds it so difficult to achieve real consensus on any particular issue.

All this is compounded by the real world disconnect between the national leadership and the local congregation. This is hardly a situation unique to Lutherans but it results in different visions of what the Lutheran Church is supposed to be. The national offices tend to be of the more progressive bent. More important than that the milieu the leadership moves in is that of the university and the upper leadership of other Christian denominations. Thus many of the enthusiasms which animate the national leadership proceed directly from the current social vapors of higher education. This at times results in a vision of the Church as a university writ large with all the features of multi-culturalism, a wide variety and number of points-of-view, and a one-sided initiative for social advocacy. Local congregations, however, are more customarily Lutheran--in a word: conservative. While the local ELCA congregation's frequency will have women for Pastors and will have "open" communion for other Christians, in many ways there are little practical differences between an ELCA Lutheran and other Lutherans belonging to the more strict Missouri or Wisconsin Synods. Life of the congregation centers around
Word and Sacrament as it has for the last 500 years. Preaching the Gospel and the spread of the Faith are the primary concerns. As a rule, most congregations do not engage in direct political activities; on the other hand, most do engage in charitable measures. While in practice there are Lutherans of many different stripes, most do not see diversity of viewpoints as a virtue in and of itself. Indeed, there are boundaries beyond which one can no longer meaningfully call oneself a Lutheran.

And this is really the final unanswered question: will the ELCA continue on until it is not longer Lutheran in essence? All Churches must change in order to be the Church for each succeeding generation. The reality is for most Churches the question isn't "what shall we change?' but rather "what shall we keep?" In this regard, the passing of time is ruthless and thousands of valuable treasures are lost along the way. So it is and so it always has been. For all our worries and gnashing of teeth, the Lord will decide what his Church will look like and will rescue her when all looks dark--as He always has.
ELCA has abandoned Lutheranism  Dec 1, 2005
I found this book interesting; furthermore, I no longer felt alone. When the LCA (Lutheran Church in America) made the decision to merge with the ALC, I noticed a change in the doctrines I had studied and agreed with. When I asked my pastor about them, his response was, "The Bible was written a long time ago, and times have changed. Some of those things are no longer applicable." This statement to me is blasphemous. I can honestly say, I didn't leave the ELCA, it left me. Faith alone, Grace alone, Scripture alone. I still believe it's true. The ELCA doesn't.
Bigotry at its best!  Jun 16, 2005
This book is not worthy of publication. It distorts the truth, it is biased towards liberal religiosity, it is homophobic to its core, it is affraid of pluralism, and it does not really understand the theology of the ELCA or Lutheranism for that matter. If you want to gripe about a denomination that is really making a difference in people's life; then by all means read this nonsense. You would think that in this day and age we would be past the name calling and hate ladden rhetoric. Oh, and by the way Luther was neither a fundamentalist nor a literalist. As you read history you will understand that reading the Bible literally is a recent phenomena. It is blasphemous to consider the Bible inerrent; that designation belongs to God alone. Here I stand... those who take it upon themselves to determine if any group is Christian or Lutheran or orthodox or anything for that matter is deluded. Our task is to spread the word of God and not judge others.

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