METRO LUTHERAN UNITES ELCA, WELS, LCMS, AFLC,
PROMOTES ABORTION AND HOMOSEXUALITY
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Most conservative Lutherans do not realize that they work directly with the ultra left-wing Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. For instance, the Wisconsin Synod has worked with ELCA and its predecessor bodies ever since 1958, according to John W. Bachman in Together in Hope: 50 Years of Lutheran World Relief. The current Bulletin of Reports and Memorials for WELS lists a financial contribution to LWR. WELS has men on the LWR board, not as members but as "consultants," which reminds WELS members of a famous quotation by Wisconsin Synodical President John Brenner.
"Rev. Brenner tells us how unionists in the General Council chloroformed the conscience of the body. When they entered into working arrangements (in the distinctly religious sphere) with the Reformed churches, they glazed the matter over by reporting that 'the object of these conferences is purely that of counsel concerning the problems of foreign mission-work.' Only counsel; no fellowship; just consulting with one another. Thus does the camel push its nose into the tent. Let us keep our eyes open" (p. 98ff.).
Carl Lawrenz, Chairman, Commission on Doctrinal Matters, Fellowship Then and Now, Concerning the Impasse in the Intersynodical Discussions on Church Fellowship, p. 23.
John Bachman has also noted: "On at least one occasion LWR representatives participated in a study retreat with WELS staff members." (Together in Hope, p. 126)
Patsy Leppien (What's Going on among the Lutherans?) noticed in her research that Lutheran unionism began with cooperative Lutheran relief efforts after World War I. We can see how the Wisconsin Synod repeated the mistakes of the Missouri Synod (simultaneously denouncing those errors). Missouri did not at first cooperate in externals (relief or non-religious efforts) with the liberal Lutherans, then found reasons to do so. In 1986, WELS was still passing out leaflets saying they did not cooperate in externals, 28 years after joining LWR efforts. I was leaving the Lutheran Church in America in 1986 when Pastor John Seifert (now a WELS district president) gave me a leaflet stating that WELS opposed cooperation in externals.
Almost anything is considered an external now. Lutheran Brotherhood's Bond magazine states: ""As a direct result of the continually changing face of America, the three major Lutheran church bodies-the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the LCMS and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)-have begun concerted efforts to reach non-English speaking cultures as well as African-Americans in their own neighborhoods." (Winter, 1996, p. 4) The program is explained by Rev. Robert Hartman, Administrator for Evangelism of WELS. Fuller Seminary has a cross-cultural ministry program which seems to set the agenda for the pan-Lutheran efforts.
Conservative Lutherans do not realize that their leaders are actively promoting the most anti-Christian causes through the Metro Lutheran, published by the Twin Cities Lutheran Newspaper, Inc., edited by Michael L. Sherer. The masthead states that members of the board come from the AFLC, ELCA, LCMS, and WELS. News stories also include the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS). ELCA calls the tune with all unionistic activities, for three reasons:
1. ELCA is easily the largest Lutheran church body and can outvote the others when planning is done.
2. Those conservative Lutheran leaders who want to work with ELCA have already adopted the ELCA mindset.
3. Lutheran Brotherhood and AAL want the Lutheran groups to work together, so the money is spent on unionism rather than promotion of sound doctrine.
Therefore, it is no wonder that most ELCA-WELS-LCMS activities veer sharply to the left.
Let's look at the contents of the Metro Lutheran and ask whether it represents the Biblical doctrines of the Christian faith.
1. Carl Leroy complained (July, 1997, p. 4) that John Chagnon was using the Concordat "as an opportunity to promote a primarily anti-gay agenda." (editorial page letter)
2. A large ad promoted a charismatic Lutheran conference (July, 1997, p. 5). "Help! Can I be a Charismatic and a Lutheran? Todd Wallace" and my favorite: "Uncorking the Spiritual Geyser, Greg Boyd."
3. Staffmember Jean Johansson wrote a favorable review of In the Company of Women: Voices from the Women's Movement, foreword by Gloria Steinem. Two of the three Lutheran women in the book were interviewed. Edna Schwartz explained how she was frightened as a board member of a county hospital when pro-life people phoned her in the middle of the night. She said the hospital had to perform abortions or lose federal funds. Rev. Joy Bussert, a pro-abortion activist in ELCA, described how she felt when she first heard a woman preach (Joan Forsberg, United Church of Christ): "I can still remember, my knuckles, my hands on the pew at the chapel at Yale...just shaking. Afterwards we [the other women in the chapel] all sat down off to the side of this big huge pulpit-and just started to cry." (July, 1997, pp.6-7) It must have been a big huge cry!
4. One photo shows two ELCA bishops posing with an archbishop of the Church of the Anti-Christ. "The three spiritual heads shared worship leadership at the 18th annual All Saints Day Celebration...." (December, 1996, p. 8)
5. An article on ELCA's ecumenical proposals with Anglicans, the Reformed, and Roman Catholics was almost completely favorable toward the proposals. Dr. Robert Jenson was quoted as saying of the Lutheran/Roman Catholic statement on justification: "If it were approved Lutherans would lose a lot of excuses they now offer for avoiding cooperation with Roman Catholics...[The Vatican's] Cardinal Ratzinger admits that, if it were adopted by Rome, the Roman Catholic doctrine and office of papal primacy would have to be reformed." One hardly needs to tell Christian News readers that Ratzinger is one fine spin-doctor. (December, 1996, p. 12)
6. Former LCMS pastor Henry Lieske, Golden Valley, was featured for his collection of articles about "moderates" and added that he became increasingly sympathetic toward the moderate position, "eventually joining those who left Missouri and journeyed into ELCA." (front page, April, 1996)
7. Ralph Bohlmann and Paul Maier headlined the same front page article: "Missouri Moderates Speak Out," by Willmar Thorkelson (ELCA). (April, 1996)
8. "The family of Pastor Morris Wee, who died in December at age 89, has given $1,000 to the Joint Committee for Ministry to and with Gay and Lesbian Persons, Their Families, and Friends. The committee serves the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Synods of the ELCA. The money came from gifts in memory of Wee, who had spent 40 years as pastor of congregations...and as president of Carthage College. After a granddaughter came out as a lesbian, Wee and his wife, Elizabeth, became active advocates of full inclusion in the church for gay and lesbian persons." (April, 1996, p. 7) Articles about WELS and the LCMS appear on the same page.
9. Robert Hintz' book, Not Without Sin, was reviewed favorably. It is about the LCMS doctrinal battles, Seminex, and family conflicts. "A son-in-law identifies with the LCMS conservative extreme; in the early 80s he becomes a Wisconsin Synod pastor and now serves a New Ulm parish." (April, 1996)
10. An article about ELCA "disciplining" two San Francisco congregations for ordaining a lesbian couple (Phyllis Zillhart and Ruth Frost) and a homosexual (Jeff Johnson) was less than critical. "Bishop Robert Matheis of the ELCA's Sierra Pacific Synod presided and preached at St. Francis' celebration of the Eucharist on December 31st. His synod, representing 220 congregations in northern California and northern Nevada, has passed two resolutions expressing its desire to maintain 'a strong bond of fellowship' with the two congregations even after expulsion." (February, 1996, p.3)
11. The same issue of the Metro Lutheran boxed a story about the cookbook sold by St. Francis and its lesbian pastors. "This is a marvelous, must-have cookbook." (February, 1996, p. 8) ELCA's official Partners magazine for church workers and lay leaders published an impassioned plea for homosexual marriage in its January/February, 1996 issue. Robert Bertram was criticized in May/June issue of Partners for being critical of homosexual concepts.
12. ELCA Pastor Maynard Nelson was given a full-page story. Nelson attended Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral minister's institute. "He became a part of Churches Uniting in Global Mission, a Schuller-organized association of large-church pastors." (February, 1996, p. 7)
13. The Billy Graham Crusade was announced breathlessly in the March, 1996 issue. The crusade was endorsed by ELCA bishop David Olson, ELCA Pastor Paul Youngdahl, and ELCA Pastor Morris Vaagenes. The parish pastors served on the crusade committee.
14. An ironic note: the same front page (see #11) featured the LCMS giving Luther's polemic, "Against Han Worst," back to Germany. Imagine Luther serving on a crusade committee, subordinate to a man who denies infant faith, baptismal regeneration, and the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion! (March, 1996)
15. LCMS and ELCA are planning a joint hymnal for Blacks. It will include a commemoration of Martin Luther, Jr., a revival service, and a rites-of-passage service for youth. (March, 1996, p. 2)
16. Inter-denominational Lenten services were held at Lutheran Brotherhood headquarters during Lent. They were sponsored by the Protestant Advisory Committee on Scouting and Lutheran Brotherhood. (March, 1996, p. 2)
17. "A group of Christians and Jews, concerned about positions taken by the religious right, has formed The Interfaith Alliance of Minnesota (TIAM)." (March, 1996, p. 7)
18. A hunger relief article described efforts by ELCA, LCMS, WELS, ELS, AFLC, and the AALC. (March, 1996, p. 9) It pointed out that WELS gives $50,000 per year to Lutheran World Relief, according to Pastor Kenneth Strack, Tecumseh, Mich. (March, 1996, p. 9)
19. A feminist book was favorably reviewed by Pastor Judith Mattison. (March, 1996, p. 13)
20. In an article on ELCA/Reformed proposals, Rev. Margaret Thomas, a Presbyterian church executive, was indirectly quoted: "Approval by all four denominations would be significant as a removal of barriers that hurt the credibility of the gospel, Thomas said." (September, 1996)
21. The former editor of Metro Lutheran is an ELCA pastor (Charles Lutz). The current editor, Mike Shere, is an ELCA pastor.
22. Five faith groups have launched a volunteer effort. They are: Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, Islamic Centers of Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Paul Area Council of Churches, Jewish Community Relations Council, and TURN (which has an ELCA Lutheran and LCMS Lutheran on its board). (front page, May, 1996)
23. Promise Keepers, founded by extreme Pentecostals, was endorsed by the AFLC's magazine editor. An ELCA leader said, "Our position is to work with the movement. Promise Keepers is there to light the fire, and Lutheran Men in Mission helps congregations fan the flame when they get home." (May, 1996, p. 3)
In the same issue, Pastor James Ritter (AFLC, board member of the Metro Lutheran) wrote that Promise Keepers united 42,000 pastors in Atlanta. (May, 1996, p. 5)
24. Former editor Charles Lutz thanked Lutheran Brotherhood and AAL for donating $5,000 and $7,500 respectively to the periodical. (June, 1996, p. 4)
Women of ELCA speakers were announced for the July, 1996 convention. One was Wilma Mankiller, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. Another was Rigoberta Menchu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Kathryn Wolford, president of Lutheran World Relief, also spoke. (Note WELS and LCMS financial support of LWR.) Additional speakers were: Bishop Andrea Nesdahl, Bishop April Ulring Larson, and Pastor Ann Svennungsen. (June, 1996, p. 6)
26. Kathryn Christenson published an article about ELCA's two women bishops. (June, 1996, p. 12)
27. Jaroslav Vajda's book on Biblical heroes was criticized in a review by Jean Johansson. Only 20% of the profiles were of women. "One might have hoped for a more equitable gender balance..." (June, 1996, p. 13)
I continue to ask, "Why would any Lutheran pastor or layman want to identify with, work with, or support ELCA in any manner whatsoever? Are the issues and differences too subtle to comprehend?" I would not want to see any favorable comment about anything I value in a periodical that promotes lesbianism, homosexuality, abortion, unionism with all religions, feminism, and doctrinal indifference (although one finds no indifference toward conservatives!).