A tip o' my kepi to Sarah Hey of Stand Firm for publishing this open letter, reprinting it from an advertisement taken out and printed in the Rock Hill (SC) Herald:
Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are writing as individuals to disassociate ourselves from certain actions taken at the recently concluded General Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the General Convention of The Episcopal Church (TEC). We believe that by their actions, the ELCA and TEC have abandoned the authority and plain teaching of Holy Scripture; overturned two thousand years of Christian thought and teaching; and sought to conform the church to this world/age instead of discerning the will of God (Romans 12:2).
In response to these actions, we wish to affirm that;
· Jesus Christ is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6) and that “there is salvation in no one else” (Acts 4:12).
· We believe the Holy Scriptures to be God’s Word written and to “contain all things necessary for salvation.” In addition, we feel that “it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s Word written” (XX – Articles of Religion).
· The ideal set forth by God in Holy Scripture for human sexuality is found within the bounds of Holy Matrimony between one man and one woman, or chastity in the single state. And if this be the case, the church cannot bless relationships outside of this standard, and ought not ordain those whose lifestyle does not conform to this standard.
We call upon all men, women and children to put on the Gospel armor, especially taking the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:10-17). We call upon all ordained ministers to heed what Jesus says to us, lest we miss our eternal commendation from the Lord (Matthew 5:19, Luke 12:48b). We call upon all Christians to heed the words of the Apostles (Acts 5:29b).
We acknowledge our own sinfulness and the need we have for repentance and amendment of life. We rejoice that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom we are chief (1 Timothy 1:15). As we do believe that since all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23), all are welcome to join us in the fellowship of the church and we invite everyone, regardless of who you are, to come and worship with us.
Finally, we ask for your prayers (Ephesians 6:19-20) as we continue to preach the Gospel in this portion of the vineyard.
In Christ’s love and service,
The Rev. Robert Gaillard Kirkland
Rector, The Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopal), York, SC
The Rev. Charles Aurand
Pastor, Abiding Presence Lutheran Church, York, SC
Pastor R.E. Lybrand, Jr
Lake Wylie Lutheran Church, Tega Cay, SC
The Rev. Kenneth “Corky” Spitler
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Gaffney SC
I certainly applaud these clergy for writing a letter that is spot-on and a clear repudiation of the recent actions of TEO and ELCA. The statement "ELCA and TEC have abandoned the authority and plain teaching of Holy Scripture; overturned two thousand years of Christian thought and teaching; and sought to conform the church to this world/age instead of discerning the will of God" is about as straightforward an indictment of the two churches as one could write. I don't know how vindictive the Lutherans are, but Fr. Kirkland has, in doing this, probably placed himself on the Presiding Heretic's short list to be inhibited and charged with "abandonment of communion." His courage and dedication to the Faith is clearly demonstrated by signing this letter
Is this the "third way" strategy beginning to take shape? Much in the mold of what Bishop Lawrence appears to be doing in Dio SC, are these clergy purposefully placing themselves in the line of ecclesiastical fire, and in so doing daring the hierarchy of their respective churches to take disciplinary action? Are we seeing an attempted martyrdom in the mold of Sir Thomas More? Or is this more a kind of maneuvering to see who will fire the first shot?
One scriptural citation that seems to be missing from the letter is that related to the caution to not associate with false prophets and false teachers. These Declarations of Independence notwithstanding, are these faithful not still, by remaining within the structures of TEO and ELCA, in some respects "affiliated" with the false teachings of two churches that "have abandoned the authority and plain teaching of Holy Scripture; overturned two thousand years of Christian thought and teaching; and sought to conform the church to this world/age instead of discerning the will of God" ?
I see the thinking, i.e., that these faithful hope and believe that they can form a solid rock of orthodox faith within the respective churches that will stand the test of time and be remaining once the current revisions are washed away, as eventually are most "innovations." My question, though, is would it not be better, as good shepherds, to remove the faithful flock from the raging seas of revisionism to a more safe and secure place, to God's solid rock of Faith, where God and Jesus Christ can be worshipped, and the Good News spread? And would it not be better to establish safe havens for those who feel trapped and out of place in TEO and ELCA to find a new, Christian home?