In an interesting piece of scheduling, the president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod brought greetings to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly the day after its vote to allow the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians. The Rev. Dr. Gerald Kieschnick brought greetings, all right, but didn’t pull punches, either. Here’s the money quote:
I speak these next words in deep humility, with a heavy heart and no desire whatsoever to offend. The decisions by this assembly to grant non-celibate homosexual ministers the privilege of serving as rostered leaders in the ELCA and the affirmation of same gender unions as pleasing to God will undoubtedly cause additional stress and disharmony within the ELCA. It will also negatively affect the relationships between our two church bodies. The current division between our churches threatens to become a chasm. This grieves my heart and the hearts of all in the ELCA, the LCMS, and other Christian church bodies throughout the world who do not see these decisions as compatible with the Word of God, or in agreement with the consensus of 2000 years of Christian theological affirmation regarding what Scripture teaches about human sexuality. Simply stated, this matter is fundamentally related to significant differences in how we understand the authority of Holy Scripture and the interpretation of God’s revealed and infallible Word.
Under the circumstances, ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson’s response was gracious, expressing hope that the two denominations can continue to work together in the areas where they currently cooperate. As for the audience, it looked like about a third of the delegates gave Kieschnick a standing ovation, while the rest not only stayed seated but appeared, by and large, to sit on their hands. Not too surprising, I guess.
If you’d like to hear Kieschnick’s full speech, you can find it on the ELCA site (click on the “Plenary Videos” tab, and then “Plenary 10,” though I’ll warn you you’ll have to search for it through a long video). You can also find the written version where I did, which was in Harry Edmon’s comment on a thread at Titusonenine.