Monday, May 30, 2005

American hypocrisy in light of the Bokuba Statement

Of late we have seen a sharpening in the difference between the meaning of the words "Church" and "denomination". The Church is only properly understood as that which belongs to Christ. Christ calls, gathers and enlightens His Church through His Word and His Holy Spirit. Denominations are form which God uses for His blessing and judgment. It is getting to the point that clergy and members of the ELCA will need to gain some spiritual covering by joining an association of confessing congregations in order to put some distance between themselves and the rebellion against God, Scripture and the Confessions which is underway in the ELCA and being supported by every office of official leadership.

The ELCA is a denomination. We have heard appeals for unity as though unity has some sort of of moral or religious value. At the same time we have seen actions from the very same people which they have to have known would tear the denomination apart.

For example, every ELCA bishop has read the Bokuba Statement written by the bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. Yet, they knowingly went another direction. The ELCA bishops are currently going before their people trying to spin this, but it won't work: the situation on the ground is completely transparent. The Bokuba Statement calls homosexual behavior a sin. The Task Force Report distances it from the act of naming it as sin. The TFR calls for unity though pre-existing statement of the Bokuba Report said clearly, "We admonish all human communities in the world that to endorse, legalize or encourage homosexual acts in any form is to reject natural ethical codes that humanize society. It is thus to violate God's Creation."

The petition from some Lutheran theologians urging support for the TFR says that this issue will not be divisive in the LWF.

"We disagree with the claims of the seventeen theologians who have criticized the task force's recommendations on ecclesiological and theological grounds. Churches in the Lutheran World Federation already hold multiple positions on both sexuality and ecclesiology, and the Federation's communion holds together in the midst of this diversity. The task force's recommendations do not jeopardize our Lutheran communion or our ecumenical partnerships. Differences on sexuality and ecclesiology do not threaten the unity of the gospel."

Believe it or not that is the whole rationale of their statement. As I said, it calls itself a "statement," intimates that it is a theological justification, but it is nothing more than a petition. It is in effect a bunch of college and seminary professors acting like students. For an intelligent, succinct theological reasoning of this situation click here.

Will not the arrogance of these (mostly) white, educated, middle-class Americans to proceed irregardless of their brothers and sisterss in the developing world and the hypocrisy of their declaiming American unilateralism in the Iraq war yet going ahead and seriously undermining not only our relations with these Lutherans overseas, also the mission efforts of the pastors who aretryingg too work with the immigrant groups in the USA.

Read the following section on homosexuality from the Bokuba Statement:


3.1. The ELCT Position (Conviction)
The Conference of Bishops of the ELCT believes that the Holy Scripture is the foundation of Church teaching. By reading the Bible in its original languages, foreign languages, and our mother tongues, we have come to believe that God uses his word to show the way to salvation. Thus we strongly affirm that:

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for the proof, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living. So that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed". (2Tim 3:16 -17).

Through this foundation we acknowledge and believe that;

"... no one can explain by himself a prophecy in the Scriptures. For no prophetic message ever came just from the will of man, but men were under the control of the Holy Spirit as they spoke the message that came from God". (2 Pet 1:20-21).

Thus, the Conference of Bishops of the ELCT firmly attests that the word of God as it is recorded in the Holy Scripture (Bible) is the solid foundation for the faith and life of every Christian.

3.2. Homosexuals and their Actions
3.2.1. We acknowledge that homosexual people, with their differences and special problems, are present within our society and our church. At the same time, it is true also that homosexual acts and sodomy are condemned by Holy Scripture because they go against God's plan (1Cor 6:9-10; Romans 1:26-27). We thus, are obliged to stand with Holy Scripture which is the sole guidance for decency and ethical human behavior.

3.2.2. We believe that people with homosexual inclinations/orientations and other related problems need teaching, counseling and pastoral care that leads to repentance and restoration. Furthermore, we also clearly see that homosexual acts such as sodomy are against natural order and thus against law of God's creation. These acts are not good and are rebellious.

3.2.3. We believe that the creation of a human being is completed in and by the relationship between a woman and a man. A woman and a man are created in order that each one of them shall complete one another for the purpose of also continued creation.

3.3. Foundation of Creation
We firmly see Genesis 2:24 as being in harmony with life in an African context. It demonstrates that the union between a man and a woman is the blessed tradition upon which human sexual life and behavior is based. We thus strongly reject the act of a male taking on a female sexual role or vice versa. We therefore believe in and value the beauty and completeness of a man as a man and a woman as a woman.

3.4 Legalization of Homosexuality, Its Acts, Sodomy and Same Sex Marriages
3.4.1. We object to legalization of same sex marriage, which in essence is not a marriage but a complacent act of giving in to human desires. The only marriage act that we can bless is the union between two different sexes. This understanding of marriage is derived from God's order of Creation of man and woman. The entire order of creation, including other animals and plants, was then declared by God to be "very good" (Gen. 1:31). We thus find any attempt to change God's intentions "for the sake of a few individuals with divergent sexual views and acts is in itself sinful and evil.

3.4.2. We are objecting to this legalization because it is also against human dignity and Tanzanian culture. We are convinced that this is not a natural constitution of a human person anywhere. We believe that the cultural decency that we are protecting and defending is not against God's will. ELCT is objecting to lifestyle because it deviates from fundamental biblical teaching. We believe and affirm that legalizing homosexual acts, sodomy and same sex marriage rebels against God and misguides society. Thus, legalizing, authorizing or accepting same sex relationships is to undermine the institution of marriage and its sanctity. This institution is the foundation of community welfare. To sabotage it is to sabotage God's command that establishes this important institution. We admonish all human communities in the world that to endorse, legalize or encourage homosexual acts in any form is to reject natural ethical codes that humanize society. It is thus to violate God's Creation.

3.5. The Church's Responsibility
3.5.1. The true church of Christ would fail in its responsibility if it were to concede to the pressure from homosexuals and sodomites. The Church has a duty to help homosexuals and sodomites to accept their condition as a spiritual and physical problem.

3.5.2. Homosexual acts and sodomy are traditionally understood as an extreme sexual desire, and if a person under this possession is not helped, it can lead to bestiality. We affirm that sexual act must be confined to the marriage union of a man and a woman. We deplore distorted explanations by several people who use the term "human rights" to justify homosexuality and sodomy. We find this as a deliberate misuse of a good term "human rights". It should be remembered that those forced to accept these deviated lifestyles also have their rights, which need to be protected. Marriage is the only institution which God ordained through His Word to be the foundation of reproduction, growth and civilize society. We thus ask: is it not also a human rights issue that children be raised in community with father and mother?

3.6 Misusing Biblical Texts
3.6.1. Although we are aware that Holy Scripture forbids homosexuality and sodomy, there are theologians who interpret, exegete, and misuse Holy Scripture to support and endorse homosexuality and in its many forms.
3.6.2. The Conference of Bishops rejects biblical expositions done by some theologians and scholars with intent to affirm and legalize homosexuality. The Bible is the foundation of Christian faith and thus the church has an indisputable authority to rightly and scripturally explain faith based on God's word. The church's expositions do not necessarily have to agree with those of the scholars.

3.7 Homosexuality and Priesthood (Ordination)
We do not agree with those seeking to ordain homosexuals into the ministry of Word and Sacrament. We even do not accept evangelists, elders and other church rostered servants who are homosexuals. Instead we call upon the church of Christ worldwide to sympathize with them, pray for them and counsel them how to be transformed in their thoughts and intentions.


Anonymous said...

The Orthodox and the Roman Catholics both say that the ELCA's "gay" resolutions are church-dividing. The same goes for the Missouri Synod, the Lutheran Church in Tanzania, and the Global South Anglican churches. I know that I have left a lot out, but those churches that I mentioned already include the vast majority of the world's Christians. And the ELCA's very best theologians (the Noble Seventeen) agree with them as well.

If this great majority of Christians (who are infused with the Holy Spirit, and who are in accord with Scripture and tradition) says that the "gay" resolutions are church-dividing, they ARE church-dividing! End of discussion. The "theologians" who signed that phony petition saying otherwise are in deep denial.

Shrimp said...

Yikes! have you ever tried to reason one of these bold and prophetic types out of their postion that it is not church dividing?

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...