Largest American Lutheran Church Body Splits

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [is splitting][split] over its recent decision to ordain openly practicing homosexuals as ministers. While we may rejoice that some recognize that God’s Word should not be compromised, it must be pointed out that there are many other areas where the teaching of the ELCA departs dramatically from self-interpreted Holy Scripture. For example, the Bible claims to be the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and completely sufficient Word of God. ELCA disagrees. The Bible assigns gender-based roles to men and women, particularly in churches. ELCA disagrees. The list could go on.

We should pray for our friends in ELCA churches, and those who will be leaving the ELCA, encouraging them to stand upon God’s pure and unchanging Word alone, no matter what the world around us may think of it.

[split]: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/19/conservative-lutherans-to-leave-synod/

Martin Luther on Living a Holy Life

> But the holy orders and true religious institutions established by God > are these three: the office of priest, the estate of marriage, the > civil government. [See Large Catechism, 4th Commandment, 158, and the > Augsburg Confession, Article XVI] All who are engaged in the clerical > office or ministry of the Word are in a holy, proper, good, and > God-pleasing order and estate, such as those who preach, administer > sacraments, supervise the common chest, sextons and messengers or > servants who serve such persons. These are engaged in works which are > altogether holy in God’s sight.

> Again, all fathers and mothers who regulate their household wisely and > bring up their children to the service of God are engaged in pure > holiness, in a holy work and a holy order. Similarly, when children > and servants show obedience to their elders and masters, here too is > pure holiness, and whoever is thus engaged is a living saint on earth.

> Moreover, princes and lords, judges, civil officers, state officials, > notaries, male and female servants and all who serve such persons, and > further, all their obedient subjects — all are engaged in pure > holiness and leading a holy life before God. For these three > religious institutions or orders are found in God’s Word and > commandment; and whatever is contained in God’s Word must be holy, for > God’s Word is holy and sanctifies everything connected with it and > involved in it.

> Above these three institutions and orders is the common order of > Christian love, in which one serves not only the three orders, but > also serves every needy person in general with all kinds of benevolent > deeds, such as feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, > forgiving enemies, praying for all men on earth, suffering all kinds > of evil on earth, etc. Behold, all of these are called good and holy > works. However, none of these orders is a means of salvation. There > remains only one way above them all, viz. faith in Jesus Christ.

> For to be holy and to be saved are two entirely different things. We > are saved through Christ alone; but we become holy both through this > faith and through these divine foundations and orders. Even the > godless may have much about them that is holy without being saved > thereby. For God wishes us to perform such works to his praise and > glory. And all who are saved in the faith of Christ surely do these > works and maintain these orders.

(AE 37:364-365)

Note that neither the three broad categories (churchly, domestic, and civil) that Luther describes, nor the examples he gives, are meant to be mutually exclusive. Our church Treasurer supervises the common chest, but also holds other churchly responsibilities, as well as responsibilities in the other categories.