Dear Pastor and Church Council,
Our family has made a decision that we have struggled with after much prayer, searching God’s Word, calling on the Holy Spirit for guidance in truth and clarity, and waiting for the Lord’s direction. In honesty and with love we must inform you that are leaving the church.
Our decision was prompted by the August 2009 social statement adopted by the ELCA, but we have had other concerns. The ELCA made a decision to be in “full communion” with the Episcopal Church in 1998. (The Episcopal Church is actively involved in abortion rights, the promotion of gay, lesbian and transgendered lifestyles, the ordination of homosexual priests and bishops and the support of same sex marriage, not to mention opposition to the nation of Israel.) In 2006 the ELCA approved new hymnals which removed the male pronouns for God, from the Psalms. We studied the ELCA’s website and discovered that the ELCA spent seven years and over a million dollars in the study of “human sexuality” for the development of their “social statement.” The ELCA is a misguided social institution, not an organization committed to taking the Gospel out to the world. The August decision to ordain homosexual pastors brings into focus undeniable evidence that the national church has moved away from Biblical authority. When a tornado came out of nowhere and struck the Minneapolis convention center in August during the debate on homosexuality at the ELCA convention, it knocked over the 800 pound cross atop the hosting Central Lutheran church; the cross was left dangling upside down. Do you really think this sobering incident was a random act of coincidence?
This is not about homosexuality. It is about a liberal theology that has crept into the church and one that rejects the inerrancy of God’s Word. Yes, this is about two different views of the Bible. The Bible either contains some of God’s Words or it is God’s Word. It is either the whole truth or some of the truth. It is either an ancient text with minor relevance, or it is the unchanging, inerrant Word of the living God. It can’t be both. In clarity, our family has taken a position. Jesus said, “Father, your Word is truth” (John 17:17). We believe that God’s Word, which claims to be living and active (Hebrews 4:12), is the standard for truth. We cannot ignore or explain away parts of Scripture that we don’t like. Society changes and culture shifts but God and His Word do not change. “I the LORD do not change,” says God in Malachi. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Pastor, if your view is that the Old Testament contains myth and folklore and you do not accept the Biblical perspective of homosexuality, do you believe in the authentic Jesus of the Bible or do you believe in an artificial Jesus of your own ideas and hence a false gospel? If you say you believe in the real Jesus then I would like to remind you that Jesus Himself believed in the Hebrew Scriptures and in fact said that Moses wrote about Him saying He (Christ) was the complete fulfillment of the every book in the Old Testament. A rejection of the Scriptures is a rejection of the Lord. Our family can compromise on minor matters but we can not compromise on Biblical authority. God’s Word warns us not to conform to the world and gives clear instruction with regard to how the church and its people should handle doctrines that are in conflict with Scripture. Jeremiah 23 describes leaders who reject God’s voice and scatter his Sheep. In Acts 17 we learn that it is highly noble to search the Scriptures “every day” to see if doctrines and teachings are “true.” St Jerome said, “Scripture is the benchmark of truth.”
Every human wrestles with sin. Our struggle with sin reveals the holiness of God and how desperately we need a savior. Sin is defined by God in the Bible, not by voting members in a church governing body. When church leaders, Bible teachers and those in authority redefine what constitutes sin, they put themselves in a dangerous spiritual position. Even worse, they take others there with them. If “it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31) then is it a horror beyond comprehension to fall out of His hands? We are told in 1st Timothy and again in 2nd Peter that God wants all people to come to repentance and a saving knowledge of the “truth.” Beliefs have very real and eternal consequences.
We cannot support a church whose leadership has chosen to go off in a direction that is contrary to what God teaches in His Word. We cannot support a church that uses our finances to promote agendas that are in direct opposition to God and we will not be complicit in disobedience. No church should ever deny the authority of God’s Word and to do so begs the question of whether the church is genuine or counterfeit. Our family’s allegiance must first be to the Lord Jesus Christ and the sanctity of His Word, not to any particular person, church or denomination. We are leaving the ELCA because they have left us.
Because God desires a relationship with us through His Son and in doing so wants to make us more and more like Jesus (Romans 8:29-29) through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word, we cannot remain in place where people are denied access to the fullness and truth of God’s sanctifying Word. We have no choice but to leave. We must be obedient as we hear the Lord’s call to leave this “Egypt” and pick up our crosses to follow Him. In honesty we must tell you, that if anyone from the church comes to us to discuss this, we will in truth and in love, explain our position from Scripture. We will continue to pray earnestly for the people of the church, “Asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”
“Every Word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” Proverbs 30:5