Recently, the ELCA the denomination my church belongs to, elected a gay bishop in the California area. Al Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) is no longer a church and the only thing in their initials they hold to is the A for America in the denominational name. This is a typical response from the conservative leadership of American Evangelicalism that identifies more with the pharisees than Christ's teachings in my opinion.
If the playing field is level, then I can point the finger at the Al Mohlers of the world and make blanket statements about their denomination without knowing all of the facts. All churches in America are losing members at a level that makes one wonder if the church will be an afterthought in future. The only Christian denomination that has maintained their membership numbers is the Catholic church and that is due to immigration from Mexico and South America. Most Southern Baptist church plants don't even have the name "Baptist" in their name and they try to have a hip and cool name. Al sees the troubling trends in his own denomination and is trying as a defense mechanism to point out the faults in the more "liberal" denominations as he sees it.
Coming from a church tradition that is very similar to the Southern Baptists, I know many great followers of Christ in the conservative realm. Never would I call the churches they attend invalid just because I disagree with some theological points they make. It is sad when religious leaders buy into the liberal vs conservative paradigm in politics that has trickled down to churches. I would like these conservative leaders to concede that there are followers
of Christ in the more liberal congregations as well.
So back to the ELCA voting in the first gay bishop, the main point of my article. The ELCA is a huge church body made up of conservative, moderate and liberal congregations. The locale that voted this bishop in agreed he would best represent their local synod. What works in one part of America may not work in another part and Mohler wants to paint the whole denomination as being on board with a certain agenda. From what I have seen is the ELCA is a big tent that allows for differing opinions on issues of the day. Most of the mainline denominations have tried to include the GLBT community in a polar opposite way of more conservative denominations.
So where do members of the GLBT community who want to remain Christians show up to
worship? Clearly, they aren't welcome in the conservative realm of
Christianity and some can't "Pray the Gay Away." The
believers that proof text the letters of St. Paul and Leviticus overlook
quite a bit of the Mosaic law to make their faith fit for them. How can they sit in the pew with people
who tell them their lifestyle is sinful when the person pointing the
finger is a glutton, materialistic or self righteous. It seems like
judgement falls on them when the jerk calling them a sinner gets a free
I guess it boils down to that the conservative leaders view any denomination that is not on board with them as a different religion altogether. Even though Baptists and Lutheran worship the same God, there is wide gap in biblical interpretation and church practices. I have no problem with the Bishop who was elected in California and neither did the congregatios that elected him in. A denomination that makes sure there is a place for everyone is one I am proud to be a member of.