ELCA Splits Over Gay Clergy
This article is on the front page of Sioux Falls' Argus Leader. My point in this post is not to argue who is right or wrong. Too much of that has been done already in hurtful and violent ways that are antithetical to the ideals of the Church. I recently had a conversation (via Facebook) with an old seminary friend about those who decide to stay and why we need to support them and the larger whole of the Church catholic in prayer over these issues rather than continually lead with condemnation of their actions. It is easier to critique from a safe distance than to pray and walk with brothers and sisters of Christ who remain for reform.
These situations in the Episcopal and Lutheran churches deeply sadden me as they have been my ecclesial homes over the past 4 years. I have seen the strife from within and from outside the denominations and local congregations because of ignorance and blanket types of statements. Within any large ecclesial body there is bound to be wide differences of interpretations; thus no blanket statement is just for the body. Within these bodies there are those who choose to stay within because they not only hold high the authority of scripture like Evangelicals, but also ecclesial authority found in the bishopry. Most Evangelicals fail to see that this dual crisis of authority. They only read these situations through sola scriptura mediated by an authority of interpretation rooted within themeselves. To an Anglican/Episcopalian considering leaving the denomination it is also a rejection of the bishop and their authority. It is a dangerous, and perhaps treasonous, collapse of their theology.
My hope is that those who stand outside these discussions can and will support those who remain with prayer and encouragement rather than insults and judgement. Furthermore, not only those who remain for reform, but pray also for those who oppose you and whatever side you may be on. And perhaps pray not even for conversion to your way of thinking, but for the sake of Christ's body and mission on earth. I encourage all sides to look toward each other with compassion in spite of their differences remembering that we are all sinners in desperate need of God's mercy.
God have mercy upon us all.