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We are one…


This past weekend, Ebenezer Lutheran Church…a sister ELCA congregation in San Francisco…held their 5th annual Faith and Feminism conference. Certainly, the church catholic has not always heard or valued the voices of women. So opening the church to the witness and experience of women seems like a reasonable, indeed necessary, move.

Where things get dicey, however, is when the local high priestess for the pagan goddess Isis is invited to conduct a workshop, or when the treasured prayers of the church, e.g. the Lord’s Prayer, get re-written, or when the liturgy no longer leads worshipers before the Holy Trinity but invites them into relationship with the divine feminine or Christ-Sophia.


I know. These folks are 2000 miles away from me. Why should I care? But I do care. For one thing, we ostensibly share the same theological commitments as congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We are partners in the mission work of this denomination…not simply isolated local congregations. I take seriously that partnership. But I wonder how or if that partnership can continue where syncretism (not just bad local theology) seems to be the order of the day.

One of the great temptations that has come out of the ELCA’s recent actions concerning sexuality and ministry has been for local congregations to withdraw into themselves…not leaving the denomination, but ignoring the changes in policy, reducing or eliminating their financial support, and satisfying themselves with the notion that “they can’t tell us what to do” or “it won’t happen here.” I think I understand how this idea becomes plausible.

But it is, ultimately, misguided. The church is not a stand-alone operation. Like it or not, we are connected to one another in the sharing of Christ’s mission in the world. Our communities do not need just another idiosyncratic local service club. They need the grand story of the Gospel lived out by the whole Church for the sake of the world God loves so deeply.

Which means…rather than retreating into ourselves as though we can ignore the issues which challenge us, this is a time for the Church to get serious about the Good News which is Christ’s gift and challenge to us. We must ask hard questions about rival theologies and dubious spiritual practices. We must take loving responsibility for one another so that we might speak the one Word, even though it be through many voices.


One Comment leave one →
  1. 14November2011 14:09

    David –

    Thank you for tackling this. I have been disturbed by this news since I found out about it. As I continue to wrestle with my congregational call – which I still feel is of the Holy SPirit – and my personal discernment regarding the institution of the church, I am ever more challenged and torn.

    Your post reminds me that there is always that third option. Remaining faithful to the local call, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and NOT remaining silent.

    Blessings –
    KMS @ CCD

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