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:

What About the Differences Between the Missouri Synod and the ELCA - President Al Barry

Differences Between LCMS and ELCA

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.

Various radio programs on the ELCA on the Issues Etc Radio Program

The Augsburg Confession

Luther's Small Catechism

The Inspiration and Inerrancy of the Bible - Gospel and Scripture

(PDF) Rev. Prof. John T. Pless - "Ordination of Women and Ecclesial Endorsement of Homosexuality"

(PDF) Dr. Nathan Jastram - "Male and Female: Created in the Image of God"

(PDF) Rev. William Weedon - "Where Were Lutherans Before Luther: Patristic Quotations"

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.

Helpful Presentations for Lutherans or Evangelicals/Protestants Concerned About Doctrine

- Series on Issues Etc
 1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.   2 Corinthians 4:1-2
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”
61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   John 6:60-69