Tuesday, May 17, 2005

How Will The Sex Study Turn Out? Turns out Lutheran Commentator was prophetic. See this article from 2001

Used to think the Lutheran Commentator was a bunch of cranks and it went quickly in the round file. Around ten years ago I started reading it. Now I'm angry because I left the last issue laying downstairs at the church and someone took it home. How things change. They nailed it four years ago:

"What Will The New Presiding Bishop Be Like? Do you think he will call the church back to its roots? Preach God’s Word as law and gospel? Uhopia!

Mark Hanson, the new presiding bishop of the ELCA (probably for two terms, that is, 12 years), will lead the national church as he has led the St. Paul Area Synod. He is a seasoned politician who projects a warm public persona. It sells. His relaxed manner, however, masks a steely determination to steer all things leftward. For example, after his election Hanson was asked his opinion on homosexual behavior, Abut refused, suggesting taking sides would be divisive and >not helpful to the church or to my leadership’" (Mpls Tribune, 8/19/01, B9).

This humble, pious answer masks a career of aggressively promoting the gay/lesbian agenda. Hanson attended the 1997 lesbian wedding reception of his close friend Anita Hill, who was irregularly ordained this past April. He has aggressively promoted Hill’s ordination for years, bending rules and manipulating procedures. For example, in June 1996 Anita’s candidacy was presented B without prior notice B in the middle of a candidacy committee meeting. The committee took a vote on this irregular procedure. Hanson voted against deferring consideration of Hill’s candidacy. When the majority of the committee voted to defer consideration, Hanson himself, not the committee head, promptly called a special meeting solely to reconsider Anita’s candidacy.

Frustrated by the candidacy committee in his first years as bishop, Hanson used his influence to make sure that pro-gay individuals were gradually added to the candidacy committee until pro-gay forces dominated the committee. From then on he appealed to the candidacy committee’s recommendation.

A "Creative" Listener. Hanson has described his own leadership style as bringing "everyone to the table" (Mpls. Trib. 8/18/01, B1). The problem is that out of this babble of voices, the one that dominates is an echo of Hanson’s own voice. For example, both in 1997 and 1999 the St. Paul Area Synod Assembly voted strongly against CCM. Hanson heard everyone’s pain. He invited people to talk to him. He listened. He wrote long synod letters saying he felt everyone’s pain. Then he turned around and voted for CCM in both 1997 and 1999.

After his election as presiding bishop, Hanson called Frank Griswold, the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, to assure him of "my commitment to the integrity" of the full communion agreement. CCM is a binding commitment requiring the two churches to "grow together" (CCM #14) until they have "fully interchangeable" (#14) historic catholic episcopates.

A "Creative" Wordsmith. Hanson frequently states he is "for mission." What does he mean by "mission"? The good news of the triumph of the cross over sin, death, and the law? Rather, as Greg Egertson, national co-chairman of the independent Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries, said of Hanson, "His main focus is mission. We understand the whole issue of gay and lesbian people in the church as a matter of justice and a matter of mission" (Mpls Tribune, p. A9, 8/21/01).

"Mission" for Hanson is more than pro-gay advocacy. After his election he expressed the hope that the homosexual debate would not overshadow other issues such as poverty. Among his goals, he said, was "nothing less than helping to end poverty" (MpTb. 8/19/01).

How Will The Sex Study Turn Out? Do you think the new study on homosexuality will be conducted fairly? Will the ELCA conclude that sex is for marriage, and marriage is the union of a man and a woman? Uhopia!

The assembly voted (899-115) for developing a study document on homosexuality by 2005, complete with a plan and time line for a decision on approving the ordination of practicing gays and lesbians. There is no doubt about how this study will turn out: Everyone will be brought to the table. Everyone will be listened to. Everyone’s pain will be heard. Then in 2005 the ELCA will revise its standards for ministry so that practicing gays and lesbians may be "ordained to place," as Mark Hanson has already recommended. The ELCA will allow a "local option" so that congregations may choose to have practicing gay/lesbian pastors, as some already do.

Practicing Gays Continue to Serve. The assembly made no attempt to discipline bishops, pastors, or congregations that already ordain practicing gays and lesbians. The Extraordinary Candidacy project boasts that 12 of the 17 practicing homosexuals on its roster are already serving in ELCA churches! ELCA standards are currently being disregarded by the growing number of pro-gay bishops, without consequences...

Liberal Forces Consolidate Power. With Mark Hanson as presiding bishop, money and staff allocated for a pro-gay study, and bishops steering seminary graduates into the sacramental episcopate, it’s easy to see the centralizing and pro-gay forces have a momentum that will govern the ELCA for years to come."

Read it here (and see the great cartoon).

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