Thursday, April 19, 2007

Denominations on the Verge of Division

We have heard in the recent past of the strife currently affecting the unity of the Anglican community. Conservatives within this communion have served ultimatums demanding change from their more liberal counterparts, especially those in the U.S. Episcopalian church who are pushing the envelope on homosexuality. Will this church be able to maintain its unity as is? Stay tuned. The story is still unfolding.

As it is also for the Presbyterian Church (USA). The New Wineskins Association of Churches recently voted on Feb. 7 to "initiate a significant shift in the Reformed world" (Christianity Today, April 2007.) This dissenting group has "voted unanimously to ask the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) to create a transitional, non-geographic presbytery for congregations leaving the PCUSA. The arrangement would run for five years. The EPC's General Assembly will note on the proposal in June."

The EPC is a "small denomination with 185 churches and about 70,000 members."

Could these 'shifts' elsewhere be a foreboding of things to come within Lutheran circles as well? The upcoming convention of the LCMS this summer could well determine future actions of a similar sort if liberally-minded leaders within the denomination are able to secure firmer control on the church body and continue to initiate significant changes to the doctrine and practice of the church. Stay tuned. This summer could be interesting for us Lutherans.....


Christine said...

Hello Pastor,

I just posted on a prior entry that I am returning to the LCMS after a long absence (I attended an LCMS church when Dr. Ralph Bohlmann was president) but with much fear and trembling.

By the grace of God I have found an LCMS congregation that worships according to the historic Lutheran liturgy and upholds the Lutheran Confessions.

I am so bewildered at what has happened to the Missouri synod as a result of evangelical/
charismatic/church growth pressure. How did we lose our moorings over the past couple decades?

We are so blessed as LCMS Lutherans to have the fullness of evangelical/catholic Christianity.

I read somewhere that the inroads of TV preachers and pop culture have had a dire influence on LCMS laity. I don't doubt it. Having seen how poorly some of my Roman Catholic relatives have been catechized over the past couple decades I guess I shouldn't be surprised that many other Christian bodies are suffering the same.

I will, with joy and thanksgiving join the LCMS congregation where I am attending but I hope and pray that the upcoming LCMS convention doesn't force those of us who are struggling to be faithful to our roots to "go into the catacombs", so to speak.

I can't help but wonder if a split did occur how many Confessional Lutheran congregations would be left to walk together?

D. Engebretson said...

Thank you for your comments, Christine.

I am glad that you are back in the LCMS, and with you I am still hopeful for better days ahead. I have served since July of '06 as a circuit counselor with the conviction that this was a positive way to be involved within the structure and continue to be some kind of influence for good.

In some ways I am glad that I am not attending this year's synodical convention. I was the delegate in '04 and invested myself heavily. It was disheartening at the time to see the developments that transpired then and feel so helpless to really do anything about it. Although I have tended to be somewhat pesimistic in anticipation of this convention, I was recently reminded by a confessionally-minded delegate that there may indeed be more reasons to hope than I have had.

I pray that good things come from Texas this summer. It will be in my prayers.

P.S. Regarding a 'split' and how many confessional churches may follow - That's a good question. There are some confessional organizations that could form a solid backbone to any developing group. One that is public and well formed is the Augustana Ministerium ( I believe that confessional Lutherans could form a solid structure to serve if the need demanded it.