Tuesday, June 08, 2004

My faith journey, part III - Grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone

One reason I began this weblog was to begin to put into words my thoughts and experiences in the Christian faith. In particular, I'm trying to write my story of going from being raised a mainstream lutheran to becoming an evangelical who eventually returned to her ELCA church (along with many other evangelicals who were given free reign to change the church) and then finally found a home in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod as a confessional lutheran.

I've already written about being raised mainstream lutheran and becoming an evangelical. Today, with the help of a friend, I was able to put together the third part of my journey: going from the ELCA to the ELS. The middle part of my story covers twenty years, so I'll need some more time to work on that post. It has been very difficult to verbalize my feelings towards the changing ELCA. It complicates my task to learn that the changes in the ELCA go beyond me and my life time:back many, many generations over more than a century and a half.

The current situation in the ELCA is depressing. In fact, it is beyond depressing to live firsthand in the expansive moral morass. For me, words cannot describe the absolute state of confusion which is glorified there. I personally experienced incorporation of the false teachings of Robert Schuller , use of the Alpha program for confirmation in place of Luther's small catechism , using Baptist curriculum for Sunday School, abandoning formal confirmation classes because kids and their families complained it was too boring, loss of the liturgy for hand-clapping, emotional performances and meaningless songs, the impending vote next year to ordain and bless practicing homosexuals, etc. I knew for five years that I had to leave, but I kept thinking that I owed it to my home church to stay and try to be a positive influence.

Although it was hard to leave after 30 years of membership at my home church, I did it to protect my own salvation and for the benefit of my children. I now experience much joy at the biblical truths preached and practiced at confessional lutheran congregations, such as King of Grace. I know, after 20 years of searching through churches, that there is no perfect church and never will be on this earth.

I was attracted to King of Grace and confessional lutheranism because the Word is faithfully preached and taught. It's strength is turning people to God's Word. I have confidence that Scripture will be the final word on changes made in the ELS. It's grace alone, faith alone, scripture alone and Christ alone - that's what I like about our church. I feel such freedom in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and at King of Grace: freedom that comes from the peace of mind knowing that the Word is being clearly taught to me and my family, not on somebody's whim or interpretation. I know that my husband and I will grow old in this church and see our grandchildren baptized and confirmed at this church.

Since I am an avid fan of the Q&A section of the WELS website (see link below), I am aware of the many divisions in the more conservative Lutheran synods. I don't pretend to understand them and, in fact, I think that the arguers should realize that there are many newcomers to confessional lutheranism who have very little idea what all the fighting is about between WELS/ELS and LC/MS, etc. Not to belittle the arguments, since they surely stem from legitimate complaints, but God has obviously brought many new people into the church since then. I hope to see more evangelicals turn to confessional lutheranism. I also pray that long-standing members are always so patient with those of us relearning scriptural truths. So far, so good!

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