Friday, October 02, 2009

Another prime example of Lutheranism being misunderstood

This St. Paul Pioneer Press article covers a Minneapolis congregation voting to split with the ELCA over their gay resolution recently passed. Here is my email to the writer:


I am writing about your recent Pioneer Press article entitled "Minneapolis church splits with ELCA over gays". It appears from the article that you are not fully understanding Lutheranism in contrast to the popular ideas dominant in American Christianity.

You wrote: "...Wells and other an emphasis on the law part, saying that their interpretation of Scripture holds that God views homosexuality as a sin. The resolution's proponents believe the emphasis should be on the gospel aspect. They generally believe that all humans have sinned and that 'self-righteousness is no longer possible,' said Johnson. That's a basic idea in theology -- God saves us; we do not." This has created a few false dichotomies. What Lutherans are committed to is the teaching that the things that we do and fail to do in our lives do not determine whether we are saved or not. We are and never were able to make ourselves righteous. The law of God shows us that we fail at that and therefore do not deserve to be saved. On the other hand, the gospel tells us what God has done for us, namely that Jesus died to take away our sins. Surely all people are sinners and for those who do not reject it, they have the free gift of salvation. These issues are not at dispute here. There is another question of how God would like us to live our lives. We know we are saved even though we sin. How can we live our lives in thankfulness for being saved? That is what God also tells us in the law. We cannot ever make ourselves good enough" by trying to live according to God's law and so we still depend on Christ's sacrifice. The law has these two roles of showing us our sins and guiding us in life. The gospel is always there telling us we are saved by Jesus sacrifice on the cross. These things are really not at dispute in this issue over gay acceptance. The primary issue is whether God's Word says that homosexual behavior is sinful. The variation is in which parts of the Bible are considered God's Word. God's Word is unchangable as God is, so, put very simply, one must deny that certain portions of the Bible are God's Word. The proponents of the resolution take the position that there is content of the Bible that consist of human statements that are limited to ancient cultures and do not apply today. They would not consider that to be God's Word.

I hopefully have explained myself well here. I would be happy to clarify further or otherwise reply if you wish. In the best of worlds, I would hope for an article to correct some of these misunderstandings of Lutheranism.

- Kevin Buchs; Pastor, Rochester, MN

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