LCMS or ELCA?
What are the main differences between the LCMS and the ELCA? Why aren't we in altar and pulpit fellowship? Is 'Lutheran' still Lutheran anymore? Getting beyond potlucks, bratwurst, lefse to the real substance of things...
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod continue to part ways when it comes to teaching (doctrine) and practice. Many of these differences have deep roots, not in culture or ethnicity, but in how the Bible is understood. Many of the differences began when some decades ago there began to be a denial of the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of the Bible was denied or watered-down amongst many Lutherans. When the ELCA merger took place this began to spread throughout other areas of church teaching and life - the acceptance and authority of the Lutheran Confessions (the Book of Concord of 1580), fellowship declarations with non-Lutheran churches, the ordination of women to the pastoral office and women taking up the duties of pastors, the denial of the order of creation, the denial of creation over against evolution, and more recently the acceptance of homosexuals (male and female) into the pastoral office, the provision of abortion within the ELCA church worker benefit plan, and the LWF agreement with the Roman Catholic Church on the doctrine of justification.
Please prayerfully consider these important differences between the Missouri Synod and the ELCA (what came from a merger of the ALC, LCA, and AELC).
Below are some resources that help explain some of the key differences and why they are important:
Differences Between ELCA and LCMS with links for documentation - important reading - If you are unconvinced there are crucial differences worthy of making a change of Lutheran church bodies, please read this article carefully and prayerfully. It is not a matter of nostalgia, ethnicity, or minor doctrinal differences. The Gospel of Christ is at stake and being lost for a false gospel.
We certainly acknowledge that there will be no outwardly perfect church body or synod on this side of heaven. We do not believe the Book of Concord merely represents "what we as Lutherans believe" nor what Lutherans at one time believed. We believe them to be a faithful articulation and confession of belief and practice which is both entirely evangelical and catholic in the best and original senses of both terms. In the sound confession of Christ the Holy Spirit, calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps her with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. No additions of man can improve upon the Word of God or make it more effective.
Concern for sound doctrine is not merely a matter of being “conservative” or “liberal” (as if doctrine is on a sliding scale) or about the purity of a political ideology. It is about truth versus falsehood, orthodoxy vs. heterodoxy, what creates and nurtures faith versus what destroys false and grounds it in a false object. It is about nutritional food for the soul vs. no nutrition or even poison. Jesus warned about the leaven of the Scribes and Pharisees? How little leaven (yeast) can radically change a lump of dough? Even the Great Commission instructs us to teach “all things” Jesus has commanded. Therefore we cannot pit doctrine and missions (or evangelism) against one another.
Even though the Church is scattered throughout the whole world, it is One in Christ Jesus. It exists where the Word of God is taught in truth and purity and where the Sacraments are administered according to Christ's institution. Confessional Lutheranism understands itself as historic Christian faith and life, nothing less, nothing more. As the centuries of church history have moved along, various questions have arisen. The Lutheran Confessions are a set of documents that set forth Biblical answers to those questions. This is why we seek to hold course rather go the route of generic protestantism as many have unfortunately gone. There are many others, too, who seek to hold to the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.