Monday, June 29, 2009

Open Letter from the Silesian Lutheran Church

Shrimp here. This open letter from Bishop Stanislav Piętak of the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession (the largest Lutheran church in the Czech Republic) was sent to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, its ELCA Companion Synod, and is posted on the Lutheran Forum web site.
Český Těšín, May 4, 2009

Dear Bishop and Leaders of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod,

I greet you with thankfulness for your interest in the partnership with our church. With joy I look back to the time of your visit in January. Shared dialogues are bringing a lot of useful impulses. I also warmly thank you for inviting the leadership of our church, which will be led by vice-bishop Jan Waclawek. For sure we need to get to know each other and join our strength for the task of evangelization of this world to which we are called by our Lord Jesus Christ.

During communism we secretly dreamed that one day we might be able to work together with Lutheran churches from the U.S.A., Scandinavia, and other Western countries. We suffered the attacks of atheistic ideologies and repressive forces of totalitarian leaders, and we prayed for freedom. That is why we view freedom as a precious gift from God which brings a great opportunity for faithful service to our Savior.

We are troubled whenever we hear that the freedom is misused to put down God’s ordinances. As a clear example we see accepting of other ways of sexual relationship than those in the marriage of one man and one woman. I am convinced that we are not called to make sin tolerable. We can share our love to people who have an attraction to the same sex by calling them to repentance in faith in their Savior Jesus Christ, not by redefining the biblical stand on sin.

We closely observe the discussion which is going on in your church body. We pray that your synod would take a clear Biblical stand this summer and vote against accepting the proposed social statement on human sexuality. Any other stand would be very disappointing for us and would threaten our partnership. According to our constitution, our ministry is incompatible with anyone or any organization which is in any way defending the homosexual lifestyle.

But even if the statement is accepted, we hope for continuing partnership. Even though we would not be able to cooperate as church bodies, we are sure that we can develop our partnership through those in your church body who are opposing this statement and who are faithful to the Scripture even in the area of human sexuality.

Nevertheless, we continue to pray for good news from your church and for continuing partnership, and we do it with a hope to be joined in fulfilling Christ’s command to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16). “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments” (I John 5:2).

With wishes of God’s blessing in following our Lord Jesus Christ,

Stanislav Piętak, Bishop of the SECAC
The Silesian church's Wikipedia entry notes that it has a cooperative relationship with the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations.

And this is as good an excuse as any for Shrimp to encourage you to check out Lutheran Forum's section on on the ELCA sexuality reports, which offers considerable commentary on the upcoming ELCA decisions.

Shrimp out.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Churchwide Assembly Lacks Authority

Shrimp again. In the following resolution entitled "Usurped Authority," the 2009 WordAlone Network convention a few weeks ago
expresses its grave concern that the churchwide assembly is being led to vote on matters over which it has no legitimate authority and calls for the assembly to refrain from voting on the task force documents.
Here's the entire resolution:

Usurped Authority

Adopted April 27, 2009 by the WordAlone Network annual convention

Whereas, God alone is the creator of all that exists, including the gifts of marriage and sexuality; and

Whereas, sinful human beings and institutions, including churches, have no authority to redefine that which God has made; and

Whereas, "the Scriptures clearly teach that marriage is a life long bond of faithfulness between one man and one woman and the context for which sexual intercourse is reserved (1 Corinthians 6:15-20; Hebrews 13:4; Galatians 5:16-19);"[1] and

Whereas, Christian churches are called to submit to the authority of God's Word over all matters of faith and life; and

Whereas, Christian churches have no authority to vote on matters governed by Divine Law so as to encourage and teach sinful human beings "to do what is right in their own eyes;" and

Whereas, "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust" and "Report and Recommendations on Ministry Policies," the documents from the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality that the ELCA Church Council have sent to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly for consideration, explicitly reject the Scriptures' clear, consistent witness concerning marriage and sexuality; and

Whereas, the task force documents define "bound conscience" to mean something other than captive to the Word of God, and therefore ultimately to mean that Christians may do what is right in their own eyes, which has grave implications for all matters of morality; and

Whereas, the task force documents propose a redefinition of sexual relationships that approves of sexual relationships outside the life long marriage of one man and one woman; therefore

Be it resolved that the WordAlone Network, captive to the Word of God, expresses its grave concern that the churchwide assembly is being led to vote on matters over which it has no legitimate authority and calls for the assembly to refrain from voting on the task force documents; and

Be it further resolved that if the churchwide assembly insists on voting on the documents, the WordAlone Network calls for the defeat of both documents and the affirmation of the Scriptures' clear, consistent norms for marriage and sexuality.

[You may also download the resolution as a PDF file]


[1] "Concerning the Gift of Sexual Life and Its Divinely Created Structure," approved at the WordAlone Network Annual Convention, April 27, 2004
Think about that a moment -- the Assembly has no authority...

Shrimp out.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Necessity of Resistance

Shrimp here, with this statement presented by the WordAlone Network's Theological Advisory Board to the recent WordAlone Network Annual Convention, which accepted it.

The Necessity of Resistance

Approved April 27, 2009 by the WordAlone Network Annual Convention and referred to Lutheran CORE for consideration.

First, the biblical witness concerning marriage, the family and sexual practices has established an historic consensus which has held ecumenically throughout the church’s history. This long term and virtually universal consensus of interpretation demonstrates compellingly that the biblical word has functioned clearly and authoritatively on the issues. Whatever ambiguities remain have been and can be clarified in light of this agreement. Those who wish to change the accepted guidelines and expectations for clergy in the ELCA have yet to justify the reconsideration of issues settled by the Scripture and accepted by all but a minuscule minority of Christians.

Secondly, while appealing for unity, the proposal presented for the decision of the Minneapolis churchwide assembly is in fact profoundly divisive. All of the evidence available demonstrates that Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and most Protestants strongly oppose changing the biblical standards. Voting for the proposed changes will thus take the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America out of the stated biblical and ecumenical consensus of the church, isolating it from the visible unity with other Christians.

Thirdly, the proposal presented for action by the church council of the ELCA at its Minneapolis churchwide assembly in August of 2009 brings the church into a state of confession—as defined by Article X of the Formula of Concord—in two ways. It proposes to compromise the plain sense of Scripture, setting aside the authority of the biblical word. Further, if the ecumenical consensus is overturned by vote of the churchwide assembly, the majority would forcibly remove those who oppose such changes from the historic and virtually universal consensus prevailing in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. As such, the proposal presented by the church council is both schismatic and coercive.

Declaring this proposal in statu confessionis, that is, declaring a state of confession means that the proposed action must be resisted on biblical grounds. This opposition takes the form of refusing to support those institutions and officers of the ELCA who have betrayed their true purposes. It is incumbent on the officers of the church, its bishops and pastors, all of whom have taken oaths to preach and teach according to the Scripture and the Lutheran Confession to join this resistance. Their failure to respect their promises has placed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in schism.

Tip o' the claw to the Institute of Lutheran Theology blog. Shrimp out.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Polygamists demand multi-sex marriage Activists: "New Hampshire plan embeds bigotry"

WorldNetDaily Exclusive

Next frontier? Polygamists
demand multi-sex marriage

Activists: New Hampshire plan
embeds bigotry into state law

Posted: June 05, 2009
10:30 pm Eastern

By Bob Unruh


A polygamy advocacy organization says the New Hampshire law that is intended to assure "equal access to marriage" for all instead specifically embeds in state statutes bigotry against polygamists.

According to a statement posted on the Pro-Polygamy website, when on Wednesday New Hampshire "became the sixth U.S. State to codify the legal construction of same sex marriage," it was hailed by homosexuals as a "civil rights victory."

"Declaring that the new law advances fairness and equality for all, they proclaimed that New Hampshire had supposedly 'ended discrimination' for everyone," the statement said.

"But the law did no such thing. Rather, it intentionally 'discriminates' against consenting adult polygamists – indeed, on purpose," the organization said.

The fact that polygamists, and indeed those with other sexual proclivities, would use the same "civil rights" and "equality" arguments forwarded by homosexuals seeking "marriage" rights has been predicted for years.

(Story continues below)

"Polygamists, and those who have a polygamous 'orientation,' have been 'singled out' by these provisions for much more severe treatment than merely denial of favored status... The court's disposition today suggests that these provisions are unconstitutional; and that polygamy must be permitted in these states... – unless, of course, polygamists for some reason have fewer constitutional rights than homosexuals," Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in 1996.

That came in a U.S. Supreme Court opinion quashing the decision of Colorado voters who decided there should be a constitutional provision providing, "No Protected Status Based on Homosexual, Lesbian, or Bisexual Orientation."

The court majority there decided Colorado voters were guilty of "impermissible targeting" of a "class" of people.

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Scalia noted that the same arguments being applied to homosexuals as a class also could be applied to polygamists. Then in 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws forbidding homosexuality. The Lawrence vs. Texas case established a "right to privacy" for consenting adults.

Once again dissenting, Scalia wrote, "State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of [a] validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today's decision…"

"This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation," Scalia wrote.

WND founder and editor Joseph Farah, who has been writing commentary on social issues for years, also cited the 2003 Lawrence ruling in writing:

"To say laws about private sexual conduct are unconstitutional, the court, in effect, opened a sexual Pandora's box," he said. "If there is a constitutional right to have homosexual sex, how can one deny there is a constitutional right to group sex? How can one deny there is a constitutional right to consensual incest? How can one deny there is a right to have sex with animals? How can one deny there is a constitutional right to polygamy?

"You can't. There is no difference," he wrote.

His conclusion was that the court was wrong: "There is no constitutional right to homosexual sex – or any other kind of sex for that matter. The word sex doesn't appear in the Constitution."

The issue came up again only a year ago, when the California state Supreme Court ruled the state could not deny the designation of "marriaged" to homosexual couples. That court opinion was tossed out last November by a vote of the people, who defined "marriage" as being between one man and one woman.

In a dissent to that court opinion, Associate Justice Marvin R. Baxter cited similar concerns.

"The majority … simply does not have the right to erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage, as virtually all societies have understood it, in order to satisfy its own contemporary notions of equality and justice. The California Constitution says nothing about the rights of same-sex couples to marry. On the contrary, as the majority concedes, our original Constitution, effective from the moment of statehood, evidenced an assumption that marriage was between partners of the opposite sex," Baxter wrote at the time.

Then he issued a warning:

"Who can say that, in 10, 15, or 20 years, an activist court might not rely on the majority's analysis to conclude, on the basis of a perceived evolution in community values, that the laws prohibiting polygamous and incestuous marriages were no longer constitutionally justified?"

According to the activist Pro-Polygamy, the New Hampshire plan specifically includes discrimination in its wording. It was the sixth state to "act" on homosexual marriage. Several states have voted it in through the legislative process and in several other states officials have simply imposed same-sex "marriage" plans on residents following court opinions, even though state laws have even yet to be changed.

The polygamy activists said the new law now affirms the "right" of two individuals to marry.

AAAAARRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Avast Ye, Matey's, Raise the Sails! If Ye Bishops and Privy Council be so smart and inspired in Doing a New Thing Spirit, why do ye think they be not privy to this logic?

The rest is here.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

ELCA Seminarians Oppose Task Force Recommendations

Shrimp again. We've already brought to your attention an Open Letter from ELCA Seminarians to the ELCA Bishops, currently with 254 signatures, in support of the Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies that, if adopted, would allow for the rostered ministry of practicing gay and lesbian persons in the ELCA.

Now the newest edition of Lutheran (True!) Confessions ("News, Gossip, Innuendo, Hope!") brings to our attention this Petition Upholding Current ELCA Ministry Standards initiated by 5 ELCA seminarians at Luther Seminary. At this moment 72 persons have signed it, though clearly several of the signers are not seminarians while some signers appear to not be ELCA. Here's the petition:
An Open Letter to the ELCA News Service

Dear Mr Brooks:

We, the undersigned students of Luther Seminary, are writing to protest the headline of your recent news release, "Lutheran Seminarians Support Task Force Recommendation" highlighting the open letter written by a group of seminarians regarding "Recommendations on Ministry Policies" from the Task Force for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality." We object to the implication in the headline that all seminarians support the recommendations. A less divisive headline might have been "Group of Seminarians Support Task Force Recommendation."

As members of the Body of Christ and the ELCA, we trust that our denomination's national leadership would prefer to act as an impartial facilitator of a productive dialog. Please recognize that your editorial work has the effect of privileging one view over another. As a remedy to this divisive situation, we request a news release under the headline: "Lutheran Seminarians Do Not Support Task Force Recommendation."

Our basis for not supporting the task force recommendations rests on one continuous interpretation of scripture. We believe the 1980 statement on this issue by one of our predecessor church bodies, the American Lutheran Church, outlines that traditional approach, accurately captures the views of the majority of the people in the ELCA, and should be the policy of the ELCA. This statement is provided below.

We believe and hope that rejecting the task force recommendations would seek to enhance the unity of the church and further our common mission of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in truth and clarity. Adopting the proposals of the Task Force moves us away from the position of all of our predecessor church bodies as well as much of world-wide Christianity.

While we respect and acknowledge the sincerity of those seminarians supporting change, their statement that due to current policy, "candidates felt compelled to lie about their sexuality" raises questions about their understanding of the offices in which they seek to serve. Our church must raise trustworthy leaders that respect the accountability that comes with their public vocation. We hope that by offering this public statement of support regarding our current policy, trust can be rebuilt with our governing church body as it reflects the perspectives of all its members, especially as we continue to join together in our common work of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people.


Lyle A. Belleque
MDiv '12
Luther Seminary
Southeastern Synod

Brian Nehring
Luther Seminary
Northwest Synod of Wisconsin

Phillip Roushey
Luther Seminary
Upstate New York Synod

Jamie Strickler
Luther Seminary
Southeastern Iowa Synod

Ben Worley
Luther Seminary
Northwestern Minnesota Synod

A statement adopted by the Tenth General Convention of The American Lutheran Church (GC8O.4.43), October 1980, "as a statement of comment and counsel addressed to the member congregations of The American Lutheran Church, and their members individually, for their consideration and such action as they may deem appropriate." Ballot vote tally: Yes 812; No 104; Abstain 15.


1. We note the current consensus in the scientific community that one's preferred sexual behavior exists on a continuum from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual and that homosexual behavior takes a variety of forms. We believe it appropriate to distinguish between homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior. Persons who do not practice their homosexual erotic preference do not violate our understanding of Christian sexual behavior.

2. This church regards the practice of homosexual erotic behavior as contrary to God's intent for his children. It rejects the contention that homosexual behavior is simply another form of sexual behavior equally valid with the dominant male/female pattern.

3. We have reviewed the challenges to the traditional interpretations of those scripture passages that appear to proscribe homosexual behavior. We are not convinced by the evidence presented. Among passages cited as requiring interpretations different from the traditional interpretation are Genesis 18:l6 & l9:29; Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10. While we see no scriptural rationale for revising the church's traditional teaching that homosexual erotic behavior violates God's intent, we nonetheless remain open to the possibility of new biblical and theological insights.

4. We agree that homosexually-behaving persons need God's grace as does every human being. We all need the care and concern of the congregation. We all need opportunity to hear the Word, to receive the sacraments, to accept the forgiveness God offers, to experience the understanding and the fellowship of the community of Christ. We all need the power of the Holy Spirit for ethical living sensitive to our own individual situations. So saying we nevertheless do not condone homosexual erotic behavior. Nor do we condone idolatry, pride, disrespect for parents, murder, adultery, theft, libel, gossip, or the other sins known in our circles. The sacrifice God finds acceptable from each of us is "a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart." Then he can answer our prayer for a "clean heart . . . a new and right spirit within me." (See Psalm 51.)

5. Truth, mercy, and justice should impel members of congregations of The American Lutheran Church to review their attitudes, words, and actions regarding homosexuality. Christians need to be more understanding and more sensitive to life as experienced by those who are homosexual. They need to take leadership roles in changing public opinion, civil laws, and prevailing practices that deny justice and opportunity to any persons, homosexual or heterosexual. We all need recognition and acceptance as human beings known to and loved by God.

(***If You are an ELCA Seminarian adding your signature, please add the following in the comment block: degree program, class year, seminary, and ELCA Synod***)
Looks to us as though all, and not simply ELCA seminarians who find the Task Force unconvincing, are encouraged to sign this petition. Shrimp out.

The good ship ELCA...

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