This has not been a good week for three Mainline Protestant denominations here in my home state of Wisconsin. But, IMO, they’ve brought the problems on their own heads – nothing good comes of disposing of Scripture and embracing the spirit of the world.
First up, we have the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, which has asked its Milwaukee (WI) office to ‘take a stand against so-called "religious freedom" laws proposed around the country, including in Wisconsin, that critics fear would allow discrimination against certain groups under the guise of religion.’ Not that they’d have much to worry about with that kind of law: they’ve pretty much given up having Scriptural discernment and discrimination altogether. In fact, the spokesman for Cross of Life Church council, Mr. John Horner-Ibler (I refuse to call such people ‘reverend’, because, quite simply, they aren’t), calls the laws ‘antithetical to Christianity’, adding:
"We think of our doors as being open because Jesus' doors were open," he said. "He would not have refused service to someone based on the perception that they were in violation of a religious norm."Funny, if that was the case, why did Jesus tell His disciples to keep His commandments and to go and sin no more? And why did the disciple whom Jesus loved admonish us to discriminate against anyone who does not abide by Jesus’ teachings?
Next, we have a Presbyterian congregation which has been granted permission to break from the main body and join a ‘more theologically conservative body’. This break-away was triggered by the Presbyterian Church USA’s gradual drift away from Scripture; the straw that broke the camel’s back was the PC-USA’s recent vote to ‘allow the ordination of openly gay and lesbian people’. This break-away is going to be costly: the governing body is demanding a payment from the Oostburg congregation of half a million dollars for the property on which their church stands, to which their ‘pastor’, Brian Jacobson, remarked, ‘[T]he price of freedom might be too steep’.
I guess the eternal soul isn’t worth a half million dollars to this ‘pastor’.
Finally, we have the United Methodists, who are trying to say that the upcoming schism between liberal and conservative Methodists isn’t going to happen. I don’t know how they can say that, in light of this:
A group of 80 pastors and theologians, including one from Wisconsin, last week issued an open letter, saying the denomination is in crisis, that it is unable to enforce its own church laws on sexuality, and that the opposing theological views are unreconcilable (sic).’In crisis’. Yeah, I’ll say so. You’ve got a church here that’s split between the folks who think Scripture is binding and those who think it’s not, and you’ve got church leaders who either can’t or won’t (and considering the United Methodist’s history of ‘inclusiveness’, I’ll pick Door Number Two) enforce church law. ‘Crisis' doesn’t even come close to what they’ve got there; ‘chaos’ might be a better term.
And yet, there are people in this denomination who still think everything will work out if they just talk it out; Andy Oliver of Reconciling Ministries Network, gives us a wonderful example of the tone-deafness of folks like this:
"I am committed to unity, which is why I will officiate weddings for all couples ready to together be a living, outward, and visible sign of God's love," wrote Oliver.’I’m committed to unifying these two factions, so I’ll continue to do the thing which is splitting them apart.’
That noise you’re hearing is my head bouncing off the desk.
These Mainline churches long ago embraced the heresy of ‘inclusiveness’, going so far as to re-write Scripture in order to justify themselves. And they are paying the price in schism, infighting, and loss of membership.
And they refuse to learn.