Lutheran schism an example of the down grade

They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. – Titus 1:16

A new denomination is forming this coming Friday right down the right road from me in Columbus, OH. The North American Lutheran Church (NALC) will be made up of Lutherans who have split from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) after the latter ruled recently to accept non-celibate gay and lesbians as bishops.

The move has been seen as the tipping point for many congregations who have been wavering as the mainline denomination has moved into further liberal ground with regards to feminism and homosexuality. Some 200 congregations have left the ELCA as a result, with more expected to follow.

Rev. Robert Forsberg, who has left the St. Mark Lutheran Church to form a new church of disenfranchised Lutherans, told the Dayton Daily News, “This is probably the first time they’ve taken something that was recognized as a sin and basically made it a non-sin. It just came to a point of, can people of conscience accept this? I just couldn’t do it.”

On the other side of the coin is Rev. Gary Eichhorn of Our Savior in Oakwood, which has remained in the ELCA. Eichhorn doesn’t believe the denomination is ignoring the teachings of Scripture: “Who is to say this (change) isn’t the work of God? I think that’s what God did in 1971 when we ordained the first woman.”

In March 1887 the great preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon published the first of two articles titled “The Down Grade” in his magazine, The Sword and the Trowel. The articles, written by one of Spurgeon’s friends, were attached with his footnote that special attention should be paid to the article, because “we are going downhill at break neck speed.” The articles focused on the fact that sound doctrine was no longer a priority in the churches.

I wonder what Spurgeon would say today.

The ELCA has long since abandoned, in spirit and action if not in word, any semblance of viewing Scripture as the authority for faith and practice. What we are seeing now is the law of the angle being verified in their further deviation from what the word of God clearly teaches. For example, the word of God clearly teaches that women are not to serve in the church as pastors (1 Tim 2:12; 3:1). The word of God clearly teaches that homosexuality is sinful (1 Cor 6:9-10; 1 Tim 1:8-11).

For nearly forty years the ELCA has been on a down grade, manifesting itself in endorsing as ministers those who Scripture says will not inherit the kingdom of God and that practice things contrary to sound teaching.

It occurs to me that the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America are neither evangelical, nor Lutheran (in the sense of their namesake, Martin Luther), nor true churches. But they are, tragically, very American. Will the new North American Lutheran Church go back to the Bible all the way? I’m not holding my breath. And that means it’s inevitable they will be back to debating non-celibate gay and lesbian ministers. It’s just a matter of time.

The application in all of this for those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is that we must be those “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Tit 1:9).


Author: Matt Privett

Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor.

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