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ELCM Compared




In Comparison with ELCM

This page was occasioned by a comment written on a message board by a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Senior Seminarian who suggested that the only real differences between the ELCA and ELCM was the change of one letter. The Seminarian failed to mention that the same is true when comparing LC-MS and ELCM. Here too there is only one letter difference. The Seminary Senior went on in his post to encourage that we of ELCM seek to unite or re-unite with the ELCA. Now while we may indeed ultimately unite or federate with some who are currently engaged in forming the ELCA Word Alone Network and the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) it is highly unlikely that we would do such with the ELCA. The contrast comparison that we present now makes it abundantly clear that there are indeed a number of areas of significant difference between ELCM in the Center and ELCA to the Left on the one hand and between ELCM in the center and the various other Lutheran groups of the Middle and Ultra Conservative orientation on the other side of ELCM.

A fuller comparison has been completed regarding the differences between the new LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) and ELCM. Click on the highlighted text to read that comparison. Though in unofficial relationship with LCMC we deem them to be good Christian friends but we do have differences in organizational Polity and in Theological groundings. We are fully aware when we attempt something like this that there are a variety of positions held within the ELCA and also that there are a variety of positions and understandings held within the larger of the Middle Conservative - Ultra Conservative Lutheran groups as well as among all of the various Middle - Ultra conservative groups.

 

The ELCA Our ELCM Middle to Ultra Conservatives
ELCA view of Scripture

-Scripture is seen as man's creation in an attempt to express and set forth inspired truths. The various segments of Scripture are thus viewed as cultural in origin though the Truth seeking to be expressed is Spiritual. Thus when the ELCA uses the language that the Scriptures are the sole norm of Faith they mean "only in so far as the Scripture Text contains the Inspiration of the gospel". Thus large segments of Scripture can be ignored or viewed as culturally irrelevant to our new culture and times.

  • Biblical Study (Known as "Exegesis" ) is based upon "man above Scripture" or "Scholarship above Scripture" applying scientific methods to determine what is valid and true in Scripture and what is not. And so, for example, the old Testament Books of Moses are divided into strands supposedly written not by Moses but by the "J" source, the P source, and the "E" source and various redactors; Isaiah is said to have been written by at least 3 different men calling themselves Isaiah; etc. The Same approach is applied to the New Testament Evangel's which are regarded simply as compilations of the Markan source, the Q source, P Source, etc. with the conclusion that Jesus didn't really say most of what Scripture attributes to him but that the early Church put the words into his mouth. This whole approach as taught in all ELCA Seminaries is known as the Historical Critical method.
  • Those holding to a view that the Scriptures are indeed the Word of God (immutable and unchangeable or Inerrant and Infallible) are viewed as having an unenlightened Sunday School Faith.

    Though most of the members of ELCA Congregations still hold to some form of this understanding (The Sunday School understanding) all those engaged in Seminary training have that simple Faith in the Word Alone intentionally taken apart and reconstructed according to the Historical Critical method of man above Scripture.

  • Jesus transcends Scripture and thus the Gospel is not bound to Scripture. Jesus thus becomes reduced to the current cultural notions of "Love, Peace, Harmony, and Organizational Unity, etc."
  • Though the words "Jesus Alone Saves" are emphasized the underlying thrust appears, to many, to be: "The Church Body Alone" will bring one to Salvation and Faith as it leads to inclusiveness, lovingness, organizational unity, Historic Episcopacy, etc..
  • Where Scripture Alone (Jesus Alone of Scripture) is no longer the sole authority and norm of Faith the new substitute authority becomes something else - Hierarchy, The Wider Church, Ecumenical organizational unity, etc.
ELCM view of Scripture

The Scripture is understood in all of its parts to be God's Immutable Word and as such the only infallible norm and rule of Faith. This is exactly as it is set forth in the Book of Concord.

  • Scripture is not worshipped but the one who caused the Scripture to be written is worshipped. If people say they worship God but then ignore most of Scripture or large segments of "Scripture as being His Word" then it is legitimate to question whether they indeed truly Worship The God of the Bible. We believe that in worship of the one who caused His Word to be written down that every part of Scripture is to be taken seriously. This is the traditional Lutheran understanding of God's Word above man versus the ELCA method of human Scientific methods (or man and scholarship) above God's Word of Scripture.
  • We admit (confess) that there are many portions of Scripture that we do not fully understand or comprehend. We admit (confess) that we too have difficulty believing all parts of Scripture even though we are challenged to believe trust. We admit (confess) that all human attempts, our own included, are but a seeing in a mirror darkly (dimly). Thus ELCM allows for a range in views regarding such portions of Scripture as long as it is acknowledged and believed that the Scripture is indeed God's Immutable Word and the only norm and source of True Faith. An example is the Creation account. We allow for a range of views with the exception of the central Christian doctrines stipulated in the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds .
  • We believe God caused his Word to be spoken and set down in the various grammatical forms of Allegory, Parable, History, Hymnody, Poetry, Prophecy, Epistles, Apocalyptic, etc. Thus we hold to the Historical Grammatical method of Studying Scripture. Where there occur what looks like contradiction we believe there really to be no contradiction but that we in our human finiteness simply don't comprehend.
  • We affirm that no one can truly comprehend via reason or intellect any of the amazing mysteries proclaimed by Scripture such as Creation, the Virgin Birth, The Incarnation of God, The Miracles of Jesus, The Atonement, The Resurrection of Jesus, The Ascension, Pentecost, The Trinity, The Sacrament of Baptism, The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, Imputed Justification, etc. All of these can only be believed as the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit creates Faith and Believing in the hearer of the Word. Much so called scholarship from the ELCA Seminaries dismiss most of these core doctrines of the Faith as being Myth created by the early Church.
  • For ELCM it is The Jesus of Scripture Alone who is the one who saves.
  • For ELCM Jesus is the fulfillment of all Scripture. He does not do away with or abolish the Scripture ( The Law and the Prophets) but fulfills it. Thus we hold that the proclamation of God's Word of Law is vital if we are to truly hear God's Word of Gospel (Which is the Jesus of Scripture) . Jesus Loves me this we know for the Bible tells us so.
Scripture

The Scripture is understood to be God's Inerrant and Infallible Word in all of its parts and as a whole. As such the Scripture is the only source, norm, and authority for true Faith.

  • All of Scripture is to be understood and believed in the most literal form with no allowance for a range of views such as in regard to the length of the days of Creation. ELCM is thus viewed as of a liberal orientation even as the ELCA views ELCM as of a Conservative orientation.
  • Scripture is not worshipped but the one who caused His Word to be written down intends that every part of it be unquestioningly believed. There is thus either no allowance for a span of views on specific doctrines that are not of Creedal status such as "Fellowship", "Communion distribution", "holders of the office of Ministry".
  • Jesus is the fulfillment of all Scripture. He does not do away with the Scripture ( The Law and the Prophets) but fulfills it. Thus it is held that the proclamation of God's Word of Law is vital if we are to truly hear God's Word of Gospel (Which is the Jesus of Scripture).
  • Fellowship with other Christians is possible only if there is total agreement regarding all parts of Holy Scripture and Biblically derived Doctrine. This entails agreement on all Scripture beyond the specifics of the Apostle's, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds.
  • Salvation is assured only as one never questions or doubts any portion of the Scripture. Jesus Alone is emphasized to save but the emphasis is also upon totally believing all of Scripture .

     

ELCA view of the Lutheran Confessions

The Augsburg Confession & Small Catechism are given primary emphasis and the rest of the Book of Concord are regarded in secondary importance as Symbolical books.

  • The Confessions (even the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechism) are understood in what is known as the "Quatenus" method. Quatenus means "only in so far as" . And this Quatenus notion holds that the Lutheran Confessions are authoritative only in so far as they agree with the gospel. (A gospel that is not seen as necessarily being normed or determined by the Scripture.)

    Where Scripture does not norm the Gospel then Jesus can be shaped to support whatever cause or special interest that is desired. A case in point is the ELCA Ecumenical action whereby full Communion was declared with the "Reformed Churches". The Reformed Churches do not hold to the Lutheran Understandings as set forth in the Book of Concord but "full Communion" was declared. The same is the case with the Episcopalian Church (Concordat or "CCM"). The ELCA has adopted a practice which known as the "Historic Episcopacy" as something that is regarded as being a matter basic to the church being the Church. In order to achieve this Article VII of the Augsburg Confession was set aside (reinterpreted).

  • Fellowship and unity with other Christians and Fellowship with other Religions is a trademark of the ELCA. Curiously they do not seek after fellowship with Conservative Christian groups. The Lutheran Confessions or Christian Book of Concord seem to be viewed as a barrier to organizational unity and so have been ignored or reinterpreted to suit new circumstances.
The ELCM view of the Lutheran Confessions

The entire Christian Book of Concord is affirmed as a correct and faithful exposition of the Holy Scriptures and as the Confession of any who wish to be truly Lutheran.

  • The "Quia" understanding of the Confessions is emphasized especially for the central works like the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, The Small and Large Catechisms of Luther, and the Smalcald Articles. Quia means that it is "the correct exposition" of the Holy Scriptures and a correct setting forth of God's Word of Law and Gospel.
  • For Fellowship purposes ELCM will worship, pray, and join in on common work with other Christians and other Lutherans even if they do not hold to the Quia understanding of the Christian Book of Concord.
  • ELCM see ELCA Ecumenical agreements such as the Formula of Agreement ("FOA") and Called to Common Mission ("CCM") as instruments of De -Lutheranization. They ignore the Lutheran Confessions. It is our view that such positions are even more deadly in that they hold forth totally unbiblical understandings.

     

The Lutheran Confessions

The entire Christian Book of Concord is affirmed as a correct and faithful exposition of the Holy Scriptures and as Confession of any who wish to be truly Lutheran.

  • The "Quia" understanding of the Confessions is emphasized. Quia means that it is "the correct exposition" of the Holy Scriptures and a correct setting forth of God's Word of Law and of God's Word of Gospel.
  • These Lutheran groupings by an large will not Pray, Worship or in some cases join in common good works efforts with other Christians and other Lutherans unless there is full and complete Doctrinal agreement in all areas as set forth in the Christian Book of Concord as well as regarding some areas not discussed in the Christian Book of Concord such as "Closed Communion" and "Ordination of Women Pastors", etc.

     

The ELCA view of The Church

The Church is often described as "mother" and is understood to have three levels of expression - Congregation, Synod, and Church Wide. As Hierarchicalization has taken shape the central expression of the Church increasingly have become the Church Wide Expression and the Synodical Hierarch's (Bishops). The Parish pastors and local congregations have essentially become the branch banks of the wider Corporation. That trend will continue and pick up increasing momentum as the Historic Episcopacy is implemented. The Church has become a top down structure rather than a grass roots based fellowship of congregations and pastors.

  • The Church is seen essentially as the broad and visible organization in the world with those who are truly Christian needing to be visibly a part of this united human organization. And so the organization in very Roman Catholic form is seen as the Body of Christ. Organizational unity is thus seen as a bringing back into fullness, the body of Christ.
  • The Wider Expressions of the Church ( Church Wide Assembly and Synod Assemblies are the centers and are not bound to be truly representative of the congregations and parish pastors. Delegates to the Church wide Assembly are reminded that they are NOT to consider themselves to be representing their congregations or Synod.
  • Local congregations hold title to their properties only in as a trust of the wider Church. While termed "Mission stations" of the wider Church their main purpose seems to be to remit Benevolences for the operation of the Synods and the National Church. This is a classic Branch office (bank) organizational model.
  • Synods and Church Wide Assemblies are structured to favor the Bureaucracy and special interests and do not truly represent the local congregation & Parish Pastors. Nor do Synods and Church Wide Assemblies characteristically uphold the Scriptural Witness and the Lutheran Confessional teachings. When something pushed by the Bureaucracy is blocked the structure finds ways to re-present and keep re-presenting the desired proposal until it is adopted.
  • The true understanding of "Church" is revealed in the drive and push to achieve organizational unity via Ecumenism, Historic Episcopacy and the Joint Declaration with the Roman Catholics all of which intentionally ignore the very clear positions of the Lutheran Confessions.
  • Synods through the Bishop and Synod Council exercise considerable power over congregations and pastors. That power intimidates pastors from being too outspoken and makes congregations fearful of not receiving names for call committees or of losing their church property if they oppose the Synod's actions.
  • Congregations are required to adopt essentially all the provisions of a model constitution for congregations [approved by Church Wide Assembly delegates who are not to represent them] and must follow a lengthy process in order to withdraw from the ELCA. This process is intended to discourage congregations from withdrawing. It is anticipated that as the "Historic Episcopacy" implementation takes place that congregations will totally lose the right to withdraw with their property from the ELCA and its successor bodies.
  • Major changes or actions and Constitutional amendments in the ELCA at the Church wide or Synodical levels of the Church do not need to be ratified by the congregations and pastors of the ELCA. In most cases congregations and pastors do not know that various changes have taken place until the various provisions impact upon the local ministry.

     

The ELCM view of The Church

In ELCM The Congregation is viewed as the central place of the Church. This is in harmony with Dr. Luther's emphasis that the Church is the little flock that gathers around the Word and the Sacraments.

  • The Church is seen as essentially invisible or hidden. The congregation is closest to the invisible body of Christ but even there it remains a human organization (Iure humano). Word and Sacrament in the midst of a little Flock or Assembly of Believers is closest to the true church. The Invisible or hidden body of Christ or the Church is composed of all (regardless of denomination) who believe and trust in Jesus Alone. Thus we believe that no human organization calling itself "Church" is synonymous with the One, True, Holy Christian (catholic) Church.
  • ELCM views all organization(s) and officers beyond the local congregation and its pastor as being in an advisory role to the local congregation and pastor. They may not impose or intrude upon a congregation or pastor's ministry. They exist to serve the congregation.
  • Each congregation is governed by the provisions of its own congregational constitution which it may adopt and amend in any way its members deem necessary.
  • Each congregation holds sole title to its own property and assets. A congregation is free to leave ELCM in accord with its constitution and takes all assets and property with it whenever such a decision is made. ELCM has no desire or interest in binding congregations to membership in ELCM.
  • ELCM organization beyond the congregation is set up on the premise of Consensus in light of Scripture and in light of the Lutheran Confessions . This is in line with Scripture: "And they were all of one mind" and it is an intentional check and balance to ensure that positions adopted by ELCM truly represent all of its member congregations and pastors.
  • Congregations and Pastors are free to withdraw from ELCM at any time in accord with their own constitutions provisions or with a pastor in accord with his or her own decision.
  • Major changes and Constitutional amendments in ELCM must first achieve Consensus at the General Conference of ELCM and then be ratified by a near consensus of all the congregations of ELCM as well as by all of the Pastors on the Clergy roster of ELCM.
  • ELCM adheres to a unique form of voting in all matters beyond a particular congregations procedure. We term it "the Muhlenberg Voting Procedure". Most of our congregations also adhere to the same procedure as part of their respective constitutions. This procedure was actually borrowed by The Rev. Henry M. Muhlenberg from the Dutch Lutherans of New York. It gives the benefit of the doubt to the satisfied majority by calling only for the "No" Votes and requiring signed votes that stipulate the Biblical and Confessional reasons for a "NO" vote. This procedure has been found to be very effective in encouraging congregational and organizational harmony and consensus. In contrast the Minority/ Majority vote principle of Robert's rules of order gives strong encouragement to a dissatisfied minority and Interpret control to hierarchy and bureaucracy. Our Muhlenberg Voting procedure insists that the decisions be based upon Scripture and upon the Lutheran Confessions and obtain consensus.
The Church

The Congregation is viewed as the Central place of the Church in harmony with Dr. Luther's emphasis that the Church is the little flock that gathers around the Word and the Sacraments. The exception would be the WELS who acknowledge different levels of the church primarily for the purpose of Calling pastors.

  • The Church is seen as essentially invisible or hidden. The congregation is closest to the invisible body of Christ but even there it remains a human organization. Word and Sacrament in the midst of a little Flock or Assembly of Believers is closest to the true church. The Invisible body of Christ or the Church is composed of all (regardless of denomination) who believe and trust in Jesus Alone. Thus no human organization calling itself "Church" is synonymous with the One, True, Holy Christian (catholic) Church. However, though these groups of Lutherans pretty much hold to this understanding there is also the emphasis upon adherence to Pure Doctrine and Teaching as determining who can and cannot receive the Sacrament of the Lords Supper and so outward affirmation is seen in some sense as necessary for the Church to be the true Church.
  • In Some of these groups a basic model constitution is expected to be adopted.
  • In most of these groups all congregations are expected to adhere to essentially the same practices such as "Closed Communion" .
  • Congregations as well as the pastors are expected to reflect essentially a very narrow or compressed range of views and practices. Thus while the congregation is emphasized in practice there is a certain sense of being required to march in lock step.
  • The Majority/ Minority voting pattern democracy model is predominant in most of these (with the exception of the AFLC which has more of a consensus model). The result of this is that Bureaucracy does develop with some powers over the congregations and pastors despite the focus upon the congregation as the center. Well represented minorities who gain control of a bureaucracy can then essentially impose its orientation upon the congregations in some of the larger groupings. The smaller the size of the grouping seems to work more toward a consensus. Major changes and Constitutional Amendments in all of these Lutheran bodies must be ratified by a majority of the congregations.

     

The ELCA View of the Office of Ministry

The ELCA is Increasingly Hierarchical with the Bishop as the center of Power and Control. The Emphasis has moved to exactly the position that was strongly rejected in an earlier Church Wide Assembly: namely, that of three levels of Clergy with each level having its own form of ordination. An Earlier ELCA "CWA" had rejected this 3 level understanding and had adopted the position that all clergy are of one equal office. The Implementation of Full Communion with the Episcopalians"("CCM")"CM) overturns the traditional American Lutheran position. The highest level of clergy will now be the Bishops who will be ordained or installed into the Historic Episcopate . The lower levels of clergy increasingly will be viewed as "owned by the Bishops. The middle level of Clergy would be the parish pastors. The lowest level of clergy would be called "Deacons". As this entire structure of hierarchicalism is implemented it removes all understanding of the Royal Priesthood of the Baptized (Priesthood of All believers) even though membership in congregations is based only upon baptism.

  • In the Historic Episcopacy understanding "ordination by a Bishop in the ( supposed) Apostolic Succession" becomes essential for Holy Communion to truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus.
  • Officers in Church Wide expressions beyond the congregation do not actively pastor congregations but are a professional class.
  • The Title of "Bishop" though Biblical conveys the concept of Monarchy which developed in the Christian Church after the time of the Emperor Constantine.
  • The "Call process" is the key to the control of congregations and pastors by the hierarchical clergy. The "Call process" is thus in most cases very tightly controlled by the Bishop and his or her assistants.
  • Those congregations that meet the expectations of the Bishop receive the name of a pastor to consider and vice versa, those pastors who please and comply with the directions of the Bishop get their names recommended to congregations. This reality effectually keeps the pastors under control and in line. Where the pastor does not toe the mark it is fairly easy to find a reason for the Bishop to intrude into a congregation and a pastorate.

    The Orlando ELCA "CWA" amended the various Constitutions to give the Bishop and Synod Council authority to intervene whenever there is the least division within a congregation. The Synod Bishop and Council were also given the power to suspend a pastor from his call without prejudice but in view of local circumstances. The Bishop and Synod Council are given authority to over-ride even a 2/3 super majority of a congregation.

     

The ELCM view of the Office of Ministry

ELCM has one category of clergy, namely that of "Pastor". All pastors are of equal status.

  • We define a congregation in the older Eastern Lutheran terms as consisting of the Baptized members and the Pastor(s). This emphasizes that the Pastor is not the hired hand of the congregation nor is he owned by an officer of ELCM. The pastor of a congregation is understood to be the under-shepherd to our Lord called to the Office of Ministry. We regard the office of Ministry to be parallel to the Priesthood of all Believers. Unlike many of the Lutheran Groupings to the other side of us we do not see the Office of Ministry as being a function derived from the Baptized. Our stance is known as the high view of ministry minus hierarchy.
  • Officers of ELCM who are pastors are expected to be Pastors who serve in congregations. We thus intentionally have provision against the establishment of a "Professional Clergy class" that does not serve in congregational call.
  • The Presiding officers of all ELCM entities beyond the congregation are called "President". The President's are not to serve as the "Pastor" to "Pastors" of their particular entity but to function primarily in an advisory role to the congregations.
  • The Pastor to Pastors in each ELCM entity is a non political office known as "Dean". Thus Pastors are not being pastored by persons who have the power to impose on their ministry: present or future.
  • The Call process in ELCM is totally open. Any congregations may send a call committee to visit any Pastor they desire and any pastors may submit his name for consideration to any vacant congregation that he desires. Names may be recommended to a congregation by ELCM officers but that never is to take away the freedom of the Congregation to pursue interviews of others.
  • Pastors are to normally preside at the Sacrament of Holy Communion in ELCM for the sake of good order. It is always understood, however, that it is the Word of institution by Jesus that causes the true body and blood of our Lord to be offered to those receiving the Sacrament. Thus with authorization by the Congregation, Lay leaders may officiate at Communion when a Pastor is not available.
  • - Lay Leaders in ELCM are also allowed to preach and lead worship in ELCM congregations under the supervision of the Pastor of the congregation or, where there is no pastor, under the supervision of the Conference President.
  • The Official Call of the congregation to a Pastor is understood to be the election by the congregation of a Pastor to be the Liturgical and worship president of the congregation. The Pastor then in his preaching and leading advises the members of the congregation based on the Word of God.
Ministry

All of the various groupings to the other side of ELCM have one category of clergy.

  • All the various other groupings have presiding clergy officers who are termed either President or Presiding Pastor with the exception of the Lutheran Confessional Synod which has its presiding officer termed "Bishop".
  • Some have a very open Call process and others have a very tightly controlled Call process.
  • Most would allow only a Pastor to preside at Communion and to Preach (especially the larger groupings). Among the smaller groupings some do authorize "Licensed Lay Preachers" to preach and preside at Communion.
  • In most of the other groupings the presiding officer is the pastor of pastors and this reality functions as a control factor with the presiding officers of the larger groupings acquiring a power and control similar to that of ELCA Bishops.
  • Some see the Office of Ministry as derived from the Baptized while others hold to a high view of ministry minus hierarchy similar to that of ELCM.

     

Ecumenism, Unity, Mission for the ELCA

Ecumenism and Organizational unity have been viewed as "a"( and by many as "the") central Mission of the ELCA from its beginning. It is based upon a portion of what is known as the high priestly prayer of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John, namely "Father I pray that they may be one" . It omits the words of Jesus, however, where he prays "Father keep them in the truth, Thy Word is Truth" .

The Ecumenism and organizational Unity as the central Mission of ELCA thus intentionally develops language that accentuates areas of agreement and which bypasses and/or overlook areas of disagreement.

The Effect of the various Ecumenical agreements has been de-Lutheranization.

  • The agreement with the Reformed churches called "Formula of Agreement" provides for full communion even though there is truly no agreement on What happens in Communion. The Reformed either see Jesus as being remembered or as being spiritually present while Lutherans have held to the exact meaning of the words of institution : "This is my Body." Reformed Clergy may now serve ELCA congregations and will not be expected to affirm the Lutheran Confessions. Thus the ELCA Ecumenism Mission has given up that which is a basic Lutheran Reformation Doctrine.
  • One example of the De-Lutheranizing of the ELCA via the FOA is as follows: One of Reformed Churches with whom the ELCA now has aEcumenicalal agreement does not insist on the Doctrine of the Trinity and has long allowed pastors who are involved in active homo-sexual relationships to be on their Clergy roster. Thus a pastor from this Church who may be an active and practicing Homo-sexual pastor and/ or a pastor who does not believe in the Holy Trinity. Such a pastor is now enabled to serve in an ELCA pastorate. This Ecumenical agreement therefore not only de-Lutheranizes but it also clearly de-Scripturalizes the ELCA.

  • The Called to Common Mission or CCM (formerly called the Concordat ) is another example of the De-Lutheranizing and De-Scripturalizing of the ELCA. The ELCA has declared that Augsburg Confession Article VII has not been changed but that the adopting of the "Historic Episcopate" and the other items is simply because these are viewed as central by the Episcopalians. However as all ELCA Bishops will be ordained or Installed into the Historic Episcopacy and after a period of years all ELCA pastor will have been ordained by Bishops in the Historic Episcopacy it becomes clear that what has been the essence of the church for Episcopalians will become the essence of the Church for the ELCA in contradiction to Article VII of the Augsburg Confession. This supposed Historic Apostolic succession of Bishops will then be understood to make Holy Communion really Holy Communion (instead of the Lutheran emphasis of the Word of Jesus Alone).
  • Also as with the Ecumenical agreement with the Reformed Churches, Episcopalian Priests will be enabled to serve ELCA congregations without being required to affirm the Lutheran Confessions. Thus the ELCA Mission gives up the basic Lutheran understandings of the Reformation. In the Called to Common Mission (CCM) Ecumenical agreement the ELCA Lutherans are in effect returned to the very same model of the Church that Dr. Luther and the Reformers rejected.

    The Episcopal Church - USA has long ordained and allowed pastors who are involved in active homosexual relationships to be on the Clergy roster. The Episcopal Church - USA is as a result now involved in a major confrontation with the majority of world wide Anglicans over their (ECUSA) practice. But the ELCA agreement with ECUSA will mean that active Homosexual Episcopal priests will be enabled to serve ELCA congregations. This Ecumenical agreement also leads to a De-Lutheranizing and a De-Scripturalizing of the ELCA.

  • A Third example of the damaging nature to Biblical and Confessional Lutheran understandings of these various ELCA Ecumenical agreements is the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification known as JDDJ. This agreement was reached as a result of ELCA initiative and declares that there is now agreement on the vitally central Lutheran doctrine of "Justification". However, major Lutheran Theologians and Roman Catholic Theologians throughout the world have emphasized that the supposed agreement is merely an agreement on clever words. The true Biblical Lutheran emphasis upon Imputed Justification is what is sacrificed by this ELCA Ecumenical mission effort that is aimed at eventually obtaining reunion with Rome.
  • While all of this "Ecumenism Mission" has been the focus it is revealing to note that the Numbers of Missionaries in foreign lands supported by the ELCA (compared to the number supported by the former ALC and former LCA and former AELC) as well new congregation mission starts has plummeted dramatically. The various Ecumenical agreements have been promoted as being for the sake of strengthening Missions but it is hard to see how the De-Lutheranizing and De-Scripturalizing results really aid in proclaiming the Word of God and Jesus as Christ and Savior, the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
ELCM views of Ecumenism , Unity, Mission

ELCM is not opposed to Unity among the organizations calling themselves "Christian Churches" but we hold that the Body of Christ is already united and one (Una Sancta) though invisible (hidden within the midst of the church organizations and the world). The One, True, Holy and Catholic or Christian Church is made up of all regardless of denomination or organization, time or place who hear the Word and who have been enabled to by the Holy Spirit to believe that Jesus Alone has taken upon himself their sin.

  • We hold to the full text of the High Priestly prayer of Jesus and emphasize not Unity for the sake of organizational unity but that Jesus prays that we and all who believe be kept in the truth which is the Word of God. The Word of God alone endures forever and guarantees being kept in the truth as The Holy Spirit of God works through the Means of Grace to create Faith and Believing in the hearts and minds of those who hear.
  • Mission and the creation of true unity (real Ecumenism) takes place wherever two or three are gathered around the Means of Grace (Word and Sacrament). This clearly occurs at the basic place we call the "Congregation". And so we see our Mission not to be the creation of organizational unity but to be the establishment and support of new congregations.
  • Tiny little ELCM and its tinier predecessor the Central Pennsylvania Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium & General Parish have successfully established or supported the establishment of 5 new congregations in 8 years and is in the process of planning for the establishment of additional congregations. One of the congregations established was in the building of a congregation that was closed down by the former LCA 12 years previous to our re-establishment of a congregation in that place.
  • ELCM is willing to engage in discussions and study leading to unity with others but such must be based in essential agreement and consensus on the various areas of Biblical Faith & Doctrine.
  • ELCM views the various ELCA Ecumenical focus as untruthful and unfaithful to not only Holy Scripture but also as being unfaithful to the Lutheran Confessions as contained in the Christian Book of Concord. We view this to be the case with not only the Formula of Agreement with the Reformed (FOA) but also in regard to CCM (Called to Common Mission with the ECUSA) and the JDDJ (Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification) with the Roman Catholic Church.
Ecumenism, Unity, Missions

The largest of these are open to one degree or another of ongoing participation in Ecumenical dialogues but along with virtually all of the middle to ultra groupings would insist on total agreement in all doctrinal understandings based in Scripture alone.

  • Most of these grouping have various special points of focus that keep them from being in fellowship with each other. Some dialogue takes place but there are major differences on issues such as Fellowship, Charismatics and the Church Growth movement, The Office of Ministry, Pietistic emphases, Millenialism, etc. The Wisconsin Synod (WELS) Northwestern Publishing house produces an excellent little book entitled WELS and the Other Lutherans. This goes into detail about the various teachings of many of the different groupings in this area.
  • Most of the church bodies in this area continue to be very Mission minded and to support a large number of American as well as World Mission efforts.

     

ELCA view of Women in Ministry

ELCA has a tradition of ordaining Women as pastors which extends back 25 years into the life of the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America.

  • No attempt apparently has been made to base this practice upon Holy Scripture. In fact the main proponent of the Ordination of Women emphasized that Scripture did not support the practice but that it was the right thing to do.
  • It is an observation that Women Pastors tend not to be focused upon a truly "Word Alone" orientation.
ELCM view of Women in Ministry

ELCM and its predecessor the Central Pennsylvania Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium & General Parish struggled long and hard with this issue. We in ELCM continue to wrestle with the issue. All of our founding members were formerly LCA and had a fairly long experience with women pastors. When we initially joined for a time with one of the other Lutheran Church bodies of the Middle conservative grouping (which did not accept the ordination of women) we suffered the loss of a goodly number of members.

  • After terminating our trial membership with the first of two middle conservative groupings our founding members remained undecided on the issue but leaned pretty much against the ordination of women. However since a good number of Scripture passages make it clear that women were involved in leadership in the Church came to believe that there is some Biblical support for Women in Ministry.
  • Therefore soon after the official constituting of ELCM and the events leading up to and following the ELCA Colorado Church-wide Assembly we decided to adopt a policy approving of Women Pastors who would be "Word Alone" in focus. We also acted to approve of Seminarians, male or female as candidates for ordination who would likewise by "Word Alone in focus". This act was initiated out of our desire to provide an immediate Temporary Safe Haven for pastors and Seminarians (male or female) who would be in need of a refuge.
  • In keeping with our polity we stressed that no pastor, male or female could be pushed or forced upon a congregation. The final decision as to whether to call a particular pastor we believe is the Lord's doing through the vote of a congregational call committee and through the vote of each specific congregation.
  • The WordAlone Network within the ELCA gave notice in May 2000 of action to proceed to establish an Association of Congregations and Pastors not able to remain in the ELCA. They announced this as a "Safe Haven" and thus it appeared to us that since "Women Clergy serving ELCA congregations as well as women Seminarians in ELCA Institutions" will have a refuge that ELCM could take a step back to reflect more thoroughly on Women in Ministry. That process has begun especially as we truly desire to be faithful to the Word Alone (The High view of Scripture).

    Part of our renewed reflection is being focused upon providing for the consecration of women to the Ministry Office of Deaconess rather than ordination to the Office of Word and Sacrament. Until consensus has been achieved to change our early actions allowing for Word Alone focused Women as Pastors that action will continue as our position.

    It is clear, however, that most of our ELCM pastors would prefer that we adopt the "Grand mothering stance" toward women as Ordained Pastors. According to this stance we would receive Women Pastors serving congregations that apply for membership in ELCM but we would not ordain any new women pastors.

Women in Ministry

None of the other Lutheran groupings from the middle to ultra conservative side approve and accept the ordination of women as pastors. Among these are LC-MS, LCS, WELS, ELS, AFLC, AALC, LMS-USA, CLC, CLB, etc. Some of groupings carry the issue a step further and will not allow women to speak in leadership or teaching positions which place them over men. Women in these groups may teach children but once a boy reaches an age of Confirmation women are not permitted to continue to teach him. In these bodies women do not vote in the congregations and do not hold any office as a board or Council member. Among this grouping are the WELS and CLC ., etc.

  • All of these groups especially emphasize St. Paul's Words to the Corinthians regarding Women as well as the Order of Creation as justification for men only as Pastors of the Church. They regard other passages by Paul such as "In Jesus Christ there is neither Male nor Female, Jew nor Greek" and "If any one is in Christ He is a New Creation" as dealing only with Salvation. from the perspective or through the lens of Paul's Words on "Women remaining silent in worship" and the ordering of creation as it pertains to marriage thus trying to harmonize the conflict with other portions of Scripture that clearly portray women in the Israel and in the Early church as public office holders.
  • The issue "of not ordaining Women" becomes of a creedal status to the point that if any churches and their leaders practice or advocate such they are regarded as leading their people to Hell for not really accepting all of the Scripture.

     

ELCA Praxis of Inclusiveness & Quota Representation

This was and is a basic tool of the ELCA to gain total control of the Synod and Church Wide Assemblies. An elaborate Sociological quota system was formulated and is in place so that the ELCA might be more representative of the American population. However, this worked to prevent those who were the true leaders of the grass roots congregations and pastors from being consistently elected in order to truly represent the congregations and parish pastors. The bureaucracy/Hierarchy of the ELCA finds it easier to dominate and direct the various Church Wide Assemblies. Delegates to these repeatedly are reminded that they do not represent the Synods or the Districts or the congregations and pastors but are the Church in Assembly. They are told they are to understand themselves as "voting members" and not as "Delegates".

 

ELCM Praxis on Inclusiveness & Quota Representation

ELCM does not operate by a quota system but grants one vote to each congregation and one vote to each pastor. A congregation may send as many persons as it desires to a General Conference but all those attending must come to a consensus on how to cast the respective congregation's vote. This equalizes the large and small congregations and since all voting is based upon achieving consensus in light of Scripture and the Confessions and not upon a minority/ majority vote there is no need for quotas.

  • Likewise all actions by a General Conference at each expression of ELCM goes through a ratification period by the congregations and pastors giving opportunity for vote by those unable to attend or to send representatives and also giving opportunity for further reflection.
  • Every congregation is entitled to send a delegation to the National General Conference as well as to its Synod and District General Conferences. Likewise every pastor of ELCM is entitled to vote at each of these three General Conference expressions of ELCM.
Inclusiveness & Quota Representation

We are not aware of any Lutheran Groupings in this area that follow a Sociological Quota system though some of the larger groupings do allow different numbers of representatives to reflect the size of congregations or Districts or conferences, or circuits, etc. We believe we are correct in writing that all except possibly the AFLC base their decisions upon majority votes with many allowing for ratification by the congregations following major decisions or amendments.

 

ELCA Liturgical Worship

ELCA allows for a wide variety of worship formats and liturgies.

  • With the Implementation of the Ecumenical Agreement with the ECUSA it is becoming apparent that a new Hymnal based upon the Episcopalian "Book of Common Prayer" is being developed. A new Hymnal almost always precedes an official merger.
ELCM Liturgical Worship

We allow for a variety of worship formats but encourage that all seek to follow a basic Lutheran Common Service Liturgy approach so that the Service of Word and Sacrament will keep the sense of "God' s Service to Us" (The Gottesdienst) and that the order of worship will be recognizably traditional Lutheran.

Liturgical Worship

Most except the largest - LC-MS follow a pretty set Common Service Worship format. LC-MS has a growing number of Church Growth congregations that follow a Prayer and Praise or other contemporary formats. Some of these Lutheran groupings do not use robes or follow the Liturgical calendar. A few do not approve of the use of wine for Communion.

Leaving the ELCA

The merger of the former AELC, ALC, & LCA enacted a double standard toward congregations desiring to leave the ELCA.

Former ALC congregations could leave by simply holding two consecutive votes and if a super majority of the congregation voted to leave the congregation could leave with its property to join another Lutheran Church body.

Former LCA congregations and any congregations organized and formed after the ELCA came into being however were given an additional hurdle. They could still leave to join another Lutheran Church body if they first held two consecutive votes at which a super majority of the congregation voted to leave in order to join another Lutheran Church body. However the extra hurdle for former LCA congregations was the need to receive approval for leaving from the Synod (Bishop & Council). Upon receiving such approval a former LCA congregation can also leave with their property and assets. This process likely will become more difficult once the Historic Episcopacy is implemented in the ELCA. Episcopal Bishops for example have evicted congregations from their property when the Congregation refused to obey the Bishop.

Leaving the ELCM

In ELCM any congregation may vote to leave ELCM at any time in accordance with the procedures set forth in their own congregations Constitution. For most this would take place following first a vote by the Church Council or Church Board of the congregation and then a single ratification vote by the Voting members of the Congregation.

Any congregation leaving ELCM would retain all title to its property and assets. These are never understood to be owned by the General Conferences of ELCM or by the organization of ELCM as a whole.

 


The Table that follows is an attempt to compare and contrast the views of ELCM with those Lutheran groupings that are closest to our stance and with whom we look forward to close fellowship and cooperation in some form of federation. Most notable at the moment is the Word Alone Network that is forming within the ELCA. and the Augustana Orthodox & Evangelical Lutheran Synod (AOELS) head-quartered in Roseville, Minnesota.

The AOELS was formed by congregations and pastors leaving the ELCA over issues that came to be focused in the effort to stop the ELCA from using the Pension Funds of Pastors and Church workers to implement and encourage societal positions contrary to the preferences of Pension plan members. Advent Lutheran Church in Roseville, MN and its pastors were major leaders in the effort to halt ELCA abuse of the Pension funds.

The Word Alone Network movement currently working within the ELCA for reform and repudiation of various ELCA Ecumenical agreements has a variety of views among its membership. The Constituting Convention of the Word Alone Network was held in March 2000 in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. While the various views of the ELCA WA Network are still being shaped some trends are becoming tentatively clear and we set forth these as we presently have understood them in comparison to our ELCM views. If we are in error on any of our understandings we are always open to correction. The Wordalone Network is planning a March 2001 Annual convention at which time plans call for the Constituting of an Official Association of Congregations and Pastors who feel the need and necessity of leaving the ELCA. The ELCM continues to stand ready to provide safe haven for any feeling the need to leave ELCA in the interim up until the March 2001 constituting of an Association of Pastors and Congregations.

 

The Word Alone Network (WAN) 
within the ELCA
Our ELCM The Augustana Orthodox & Evangelical Lutheran Synod (AOELS)
Scripture

Though stressing Scripture or The Word Alone. It appears that a good many Word Alone Network folk hold to the view that Scripture is man's creation in an attempt to express and set forth inspired truths. There seems to be strong opposition to using the concept of "Inerrancy and Infallibility or Immutability" of Scripture by many. However there are others who stress the Immutability of Scripture. And so it remains to be seen how the Word Alone Network folk will define "Word Alone". Will it be "Word Alone" but accompanied with the Historical Critical ? If it is this approach then it will not be quite "Word Alone".

The Wordalone Network intentionally spells it's name as "Wordalone" rather than emphasizing "Word Alone". This seems to indicate a difference in orientation.

  • It appears likely that the Word Alone Network would allow for a very broad range of interpretive views even though not quite as broad in its beginning as in ELCA.

    The following is the definition of "Word Alone" which was included in the WAN Constituting Convention materials in a pamphlet entitled "The 3r's of the Word Alone Movement": "With Luther we believe that Scripture is the 'cradle which holds the Christ child.' We trust in Christ alone and do not regard canon, creeds, confessions, and doctrines as inerrant, because 'the cross alone is our theology'(cf. 1 Cor. 2:2). All earthy vessels are broken; there is nothing in this world - no pope, priest, text, or religious experience - that can guarantee or safeguard the gospel. Instead, the gospel establishes its own authority.

    Jesus Christ is the living Word who convicts us of our sin, convinces us of his grace, and creates in us the certainty of our salvation in him." [Although this definition was evidently approved by the Interim Board of WAN the definition never was brought up for discussion and ratification by the Constituting Convention. It remains to be seen if this statement on Scripture will continue to be the basic doctrinal under-pining of WAN]

Scripture

The Scripture is understood to be God's Inerrant and Infallible Word in all of its parts and as a whole. As such the Scripture is the only source, norm, and authority for true Faith.

  • Scripture is not worshipped but the one whom we believe caused the Scripture to be written is worshipped. If people say they worship God but then ignore most of Scripture or large segments of "Scripture as being His Word then it is legitimate to question whether they indeed truly Worship The God of the Bible. We believe that if we worship the one who caused His Word to be written down that we are called to struggle to take every part of it seriously. This is the traditional Lutheran understanding of God's Word above man versus the ELCA method of human Scientific methods (or man and scholarship) above God's Word of Scripture.
  • We admit (confess) that there are many portions of Scripture that we do not fully understand or comprehend. We admit (confess) that we too have difficulty believing all parts of Scripture even though we are challenged to believe trust. We admit (confess) that all human attempts, our own included, are but a seeing in a mirror darkly (dimly). Thus we allow for a range in views regarding such portions of Scripture as long as it is acknowledged and believed that the Scripture is indeed God's Inerrant and Infallible Word. An example is the Creation account. Does the reference to the 6 days of Creation refer to 24 hour days composed of 60 minutes for each hour and 60 seconds for each minute ?

    We allow for a range of views (excepting those doctrines and areas stipulated in the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds) from those who affirm that it is indeed exactly such to those who believe that the day of the Lord can be as long as He desired and can be millennia in length. Our friends to the Middle Conservative and Ultra Conservative side would allow only for believing in 6 days of Creation exactly in accord with the present length of a day.

  • We believe God caused his Word to be spoken and set down in the various grammatical forms of Allegory, Parable, History, Hymnody, Poetry, Prophecy, Epistles, Apocalyptic, etc. Thus we hold to the Historical Grammatical method of Studying Scripture. Where there occur what looks like contradiction we believe there really is no contradiction but that we in our human finiteness simply don't comprehend.
  • We affirm that no one can truly comprehend through understanding or intellect any of the amazing mysteries proclaimed by Scripture such as Creation, the Virgin Birth, The Incarnation of God,The Miracles of Jesus, The Atonement, The Resurrection of Jesus, The Ascension, Pentecost, The Trinity, The Sacrament of Baptism, The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, Imputed Justification, etc. All of these can only be believed as the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit creates Faith and Believing in the hearer of the Word. Much so called scholarship from the ELCA Seminaries dismiss most of these core doctrines of the Faith as being Myth created by the early Church.
  • The Jesus of Scripture is Alone the one who saves us we believe, not our own efforts to purely believe. And so the disciple's cry "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief" is for us in ELCM a true rendition of where we all struggle with the Scripture.
  • Jesus is the fulfillment of all Scripture. He does not do away with the Scripture ( The Law and the Prophets) but fulfills it. Thus we hold that the proclamation of God's Word of Law is vital if we are to truly hear God's Word of Gospel (Which is the Jesus of Scripture). Jesus Loves me this we know for the Bible tells us so.
Scripture
The Lutheran Confessions

Here as with the Scriptural positions it appears at the moment that there are a variety of views ranging from the Quatenus ( The confessions are authoritative only in so far as they contain the Gospel) to the Quia (The Confessions are a correct and authoritative exegesis of Scripture).

  • The Wordalone network folk clearly are open to working and praying with all who Confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, regardless of Denomination.
The Lutheran Confessions

The entire Christian Book of Concord is affirmed as a correct and faithful exposition of the Holy Scriptures and as the Confession of any who wish to be truly Lutheran.

  • The "Quia" understanding of the Confessions is emphasized. Quia means that it is "the correct exposition" of the Holy Scriptures and a correct setting forth of God's Word of Law and of God's Word of Gospel.
  • For Fellowship purposes ELCM will worship, pray, and join in on common work with other Christians and other Lutherans even if they do not hold to the Quia understanding of the Christian Book of Concord.
The Lutheran Confessions

 

The Church

The Wordalone Network views the Congregation as the basic unit of the Church.

They are staunchly opposed to the Historic Episcopacy . This has been the flash point that has triggered their opposition to the direction of the ELCA. They clearly desire the Church to be grass roots fellowship of congregations . They seem to be of a predominant mind that the Church should be Lay led with the pastors serving in a purely functional capacity that is derived from the congregation.

In this view the Office of Ministry appears to be understood as derived from the "Priesthood of all believers" (The Baptized).

  • The Church appears to be seen essentially as seen as hidden and invisible.
  • The Wider Expressions of the Church ( Church Wide Conventions and Synod Conventions are desired to be truly representative of the congregations.
  • Local congregations would hold sole title to their properties
  • Their appears to be movement toward having Synods and Church Wide Conventions based upon a majority vote representational formula where larger congregations would have a proportionally larger representation.
  • Major changes or actions and Constitutional amendments in the Wordalone Network at the Church wide or Synodical levels of the Church would likely be required to receive ratification by the congregations.

     

The Church

In ELCM The Congregation is viewed as the Central place of the Church in harmony with Dr. Luther's emphasis that the Church is the little flock that gathers around the Word and the Sacraments.

  • The Church is seen as essentially invisible or hidden. The congregation is closest to the invisible body of Christ but even there it remains a human organization (Iure humano). Word and Sacrament in the midst of a little Flock or Assembly of Believers is closest to the true church. The Invisible or hidden body of Christ or the Church is composed of all (regardless of denomination) who believe and trust in Jesus Alone. Thus we believe that no human organization calling itself "Church" is synonymous with the One, True, Holy Christian (catholic) Church.
  • We hold to an older Lutheran definition of a congregation as being composed of the Baptized members and the Pastor(s).
  • We in ELCM view all organization(s) and officers beyond the local congregation and its pastor as being in an advisory role to the local congregation and pastor. They may not impose or intrude upon a congregation or pastor's ministry. They exist to serve the congregation.
  • Each congregation is governed by the provisions of its own congregational constitution which it may adopt and amend in any way its members deem necessary.
  • Each congregation holds sole title to its own property and assets. A congregation is free to leave ELCM in accord with its constitution and takes all assets and property with it whenever such a decision is made. ELCM has no desire or interest in binding congregations to membership in ELCM.
  • ELCM organization beyond the congregation is set up on the premise of Consensus in light of Scripture and in light of the Lutheran Confessions. This is in line with Scripture: "And they were all of one mind" and it is an intentional check and balance to ensure that positions adopted by ELCM truly represent all of its member congregations and pastors.
  • Congregations and Pastors are free to withdraw from ELCM at any time in accord with their own constitutions provisions or with a pastor in accord with his or her own decision.
  • Major changes and Constitutional amendments in ELCM must first achieve Consensus at the General Conference of ELCM and then be ratified by a near consensus of all the congregations of ELCM as well as by all of the Pastors on the Clergy roster of ELCM.
  • ELCM adheres to a unique form of voting in all organization beyond the congregation known as the Muhlenberg Voting Procedure. Most of our congregations also adhere to the same procedure as part of their respective constitutions. This procedure was actually borrowed by The Rev. Henry M. Muhlenberg from the Dutch Lutherans of New York. It gives the benefit of the doubt to the satisfied majority by calling only for the "No" Votes and requiring signed votes that stipulate the Biblical and Confessional reasons for a "NO" vote. This procedure has been found to be very effective in encouraging congregational and organizational harmony and consensus. In contrast the Minority/ Majority vote principle of Robert's rules of order gives strong encouragement to a dissatisfied minority. Resulting turmoil and controversy have a sapping effect upon basic ministry by a pastor and a congregation as well as upon a church body. The Muhlenberg Voting procedure insists that the decisions be based upon Scripture and upon the Lutheran Confessions.
The Church

 

Ministry

The Word Alone Network likely will hold to An Earlier ELCA CWA that had rejected the 3 level understanding and had adopted the understanding that all clergy are of one equal office. However in keeping with a very strong understanding of the Royal Priesthood of the Baptized (Priesthood of All believers) the Office of Pastor appears to be seen increasingly as but a congregation derived function. .

  • The "Call process" is desired to be very open with the Internet serving as a means by which congregations can make contact with prospective pastors in the Network and vice versa.

     

Ministry

ELCM has one category of clergy, namely that of "Pastor". All pastors are of equal status.

  • We define a congregation in the older Eastern Lutheran terms as consisting of the Baptized members and the Pastor(s). This emphasizes that the Pastor is not the hired hand of the congregation nor is he owned by Pastors holding an office in an ELCM organization beyond the congregation. The pastor of a congregation is understood to be the under-shepherd to our Lord and that the Office of Ministry. We regard the office of Ministry to be parallel to the Priesthood of all Believers. Unlike many of the Lutheran Groupings to the other side of us we do not see the Office of Ministry as being a function derived from the Baptized. Our stance is known as the high view of ministry minus hierarchy.

    The Office of Ministry is seen as constitutive of the Church and as being instituted by Christ our Savior. This is not understood in hierarchical fashion for ELCM. All pastors occupy the Office or Amt of ministry. They are not to represent the wishes of the Baptized but to preach and teach the Word of God Alone (rightly divided between Law and Gospel) and to be the normal administrators of the Sacraments. When there is no ordained pastor available Licensed Lay Ministers who have been examined may be granted a call for stipulated time periods to serve in Preaching, teaching of the Word and in the administration of the Sacrament. The norm for ELCM, however, is that such be done by ordained pastors holding the Office of Word and Sacrament (Ministry).

  • All ELCM Conference, Synod and National officers who are clergy are expected to be actively called to serve in congregations. We thus intentionally have provision against the establishment of a "Professional Clergy class" that does not serve in congregational call.
  • The Presiding officers of all ELCM entities beyond the congregation are called "President". The President's are not to serve as the "Pastor" to "Pastors" of their particular entity but to function primarily in an advisory role to the congregations.
  • The Pastor to Pastors in each ELCM entity is a non political office known as "Dean". Thus Pastors are not being pastored by persons who have the power to impose on their ministry:present or future.
  • The Call process in ELCM is totally open. Congregations may send call committees to visit any Pastor they desire and Pastors may submit their names for consideration to any vacant congregation that they desire. Names may be recommended to a congregation by ELCM officers but that never is to take away the freedom of the Congregation to pursue interviews of others. The new Word Alone Network will allow for a considerable pool of pastors who are of a similar orientation to that of ELCM.
  • Pastors are to normally preside at the Sacrament of Holy Communion in ELCM for the sake of good order. We understand, however that it is the Word of institution by Jesus that causes the true body and blood of our Lord to be offered to those receiving the Sacrament. Thus with authorization by the Congregation, Lay leaders may officiate at Communion when a Pastor is not available.
  • Lay Leaders in ELCM are also allowed to preach and lead worship in ELCM congregations under the supervision of the Pastor of the congregation or, where there is no pastor, under the supervision of the Conference President.
  • The Official Call of the congregation to a Pastor is understood to be the election by the congregation of a Pastor to be the Liturgical and worship president of the congregation. The Pastor then in his or her preaching and leading advises the members of the congregation based on the Word of God.
Ministry

 

Ecumenism, Unity, Mission

It remains to be seen what emphasis Ecumenism and Organization unity will receive and whether It will be based upon a portion of what is known as the high priestly prayer of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John, namely "Father I pray that they may be one". as well as the subsequent words of Jesus, where he prays "Father keep them in the truth, Thy Word is Truth".

Many in the Wordalone Network seem to be accepting of the Ecumenical agreements with the Reformed Church bodies especially since these do not impose any sense of ultimate Organizational unity.

It does not appear that Ecumenism and organizational Unity will be seen as the central Mission of the Wordalone Network.

Ecumenism , Unity, Mission

ELCM is not opposed to Unity among the organizations calling themselves "Christian Churches" but we hold that the Body of Christ is already united and one (Una Sancta) though invisible (hidden within the midst of the church organizations and the world). The One, True, Holy and Catholic or Christian Church is made up of all regardless of denomination or organization, time or place who hear the Word and who have been enabled to by the Holy Spirit to believe that Jesus Alone has taken upon himself their sin.

  • We hold to the full text of the High Priestly prayer of Jesus and emphasize not Unity for the sake of organizational unity but that Jesus prays that we and all who believe be kept in the truth which is the Word of God. The Word of God alone endures forever and guarantees being kept in the truth as The Holy Spirit of God works through the Means of Grace to create Faith and Believing in the hearts and minds of those who hear.
  • Mission and the creation of true unity (real Ecumenism) takes place wherever two or three are gathered around the Means of Grace (Word and Sacrament). This clearly occurs at the basic place we call the "Congregation". And so we see our Mission not to be the creation of organizational unity but to be the establishment and support of new congregations.
  • Tiny little ELCM and its tinier predecessor the Central Pennsylvania Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium & General Parish have successfully established or supported the establishment of 5 new congregations in 8 years and is in the process of planning for the establishment of additional congregations. One of the congregations established was in the building of a congregation that was closed down by the former LCA 12 years previous to our re-establishment of a congregation in that place.
  • ELCM is willing to engage in discussions and study leading to unity with others but such must be based in essential agreement and consensus on the various areas of Biblical Faith & Doctrine.
  • It is quite likely that we will be enabled to unite or federate in some form or fashion with those currently planning for the possibility of eventually leaving the ELCA. They are of very like mind to our views. It is also likely that we might come to some form of unity with an earlier group that left the ELCA after controversy surrounding the ELCA Pension fund debate. If outright unity is not achieved then we are hopeful that perhaps some sort of Synodical conference or federation may be achieved. In any even we are hopeful that a networking of pastors for Call to congregations among these similar minded and oriented groupings might become a reality.
Ecumenism, Unity, Missions

 

Women in Ministry

Since the ELCA had a tradition of ordaining Women as pastors which extends back 25 years into the life of the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America the Wordalone Network clearly will continue the same focus and praxis.

  • No attempt apparently is being made to base this practice upon Holy Scripture.

    Though "Word Alone" is emphasized in the name it seems that a good number of those who are women pastors or Seminary candidates for ministry may not truly be "Word Alone" in focus. Here again much will depend on how the Network ultimately defines "Word Alone".

     

Women in Ministry

ELCM and its predecessor the Central Pennsylvania Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium & General Parish struggled long and hard with this issue. All of the initial founders of ELCM were formerly LCA/ELCA and had a fairly long experience with women pastors. When the ELCM founders initially joined, for a time, one of the Lutheran Church bodies of the Middle conservative grouping (which did not accept the ordination of women) a loss of membership suffered .

  • After terminating the trial membership with that grouping the ELCM initial founders remained undecided on the issue but leaned pretty much against the ordination of women.
  • Soon after the official constituting of ELCM the issue of reception of Women Pastors and/or Seminary candidates was a topic of discussion occasioned by the ELCM desire to provide a safe haven (temporary or permanent) for any in ELCA needing such. It was subsequently decided by unanimous consensus to adopt a policy approving of Women Pastors who would be "Word Alone" in focus and to also approve of Seminarians, male or female as candidates for ordination who would likewise by "Word Alone in focus".

    There has been discussion since that decision of moving toward a "Grand mothering" approach which would allow for the reception of Women Pastors who are Word Alone in focus who are serving congregations but which would refrain from ordinations of Women Pastors. In the main the ELCM members seem to be currently of one mind in allowing the earlier action to approved Women pastors/Seminary Candidates who are Word Alone to continue as the position of ELCM.

  • In keeping with our polity we hold that no pastor, male or female shall be pushed or forced upon a congregation. The final decision as to whether to call a particular pastor we believe is the Lord's doing through the vote of a congregational call committee and through the vote of each specific congregation.
Women in Ministry

The Pastors and congregations of the AOELS had a number of Women pastors as part of the initial formative group and thus they appear to support the ordination of Women as Pastors.

Inclusiveness & Quota Representation

The Wordalone Network likely will be strongly against quota representation based upon Sociological categories.

They however are apparently moving toward adopting a representational formula which will then allow larger congregations to have the major influence through Majority/ Minority Robert' s rules of order procedures.

They apparently will offset any possibility of total dominance by the larger congregations by having some sort of Ratification process by congregations.

 

Inclusiveness & Quota Representation

ELCM does not operate by a quota system but grants one vote to each congregation and one vote to each pastor. A congregation may send as many persons as it desires to a General Conference but all those attending must come to a consensus on how to cast the respective congregation's vote. This equalizes the large and small congregations and since all voting is based upon achieving consensus in light of Scripture and the Confessions and not upon a minority/ majority vote there is no need for quotas.

  • Likewise all actions by a General Conference at each expression of ELCM goes through a ratification period by the congregations and pastors giving opportunity for vote by those unable to attend or to send representatives and also giving opportunity for further reflection.
  • Every congregation is entitled to send a delegation to the National General Conference as well as to its Synod and District General Conferences. Likewise every pastor of ELCM is entitled to vote at each of these three General Conference expressions of ELCM. The AFLC (Association of Free Lutheran Churches) follows a model somewhat similar to this aspect of our ELCM polity.
Inclusiveness & Quota Representation

 

Liturgical Worship

Since the ELCA allows for a wide variety of worship formats and liturgies it seems likely that the Word Alone Network will also allow for considerable variety in this area.

Liturgical Worship

ELCM allows for a variety of worship formats but encouraged that all seek to follow a basic Common Service Liturgy approach so that the Service of Word and Sacrament will keep the sense of "God' Service to Us" (The Gottesdienst) and that the order of worship will be recognizably traditional Lutheran.

Liturgical Worship