Open Letter to Lutheran CORE

Dear members of Lutheran CORE,

As you move into the next few days and organize the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) I would ask that you temper your enthusiasm with humility and your rhetoric with wisdom.  This is undoubtedly an exciting time for you and your hopefulness for that which you create can certainly blind you to the dangerous waters in which you navigate.  I wish you well.  How can I not, with so many friends among you?

Please, don’t offer the extreme examples of what you find offensive in the ELCA as normative.  You know that great variety exists within the ELCA and will exist even within NALC in a relatively short period of time.  Remember Luther’s explanation of the 8th commandment and make that the cornerstone of of your public and private comments.

Please keep in mind that you are not the only faithful Christians with the name Lutheran.  Ryan Schwarz is quoted in the August edition of “CORE Connections” saying, “Lutheran CORE will seek to help faithful members of the ELCA and ELCIC to continue to uphold the authority of scripture in an increasingly challenging environment …”  Many faithful (to Christ) members of the ELCA uphold the authority of scripture in a way different than you.  I consider myself one of those, and will not need your help.  In fact, your rhetoric is part of my increasingly challenging environment.

I plead with you to seek guidance from a wide variety of sources, not just those with whom you agree.  “Without counsel, plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed. ” (Proverbs 15:22)  It is very tempting in these early days to restrict your circle of advisors. As an outsider looking in, that has been the history of CORE from the beginning.  NALC moves you now onto the “big stage.”

Please attend carefully to those you elect to serve the NALC.  The proposed Constitution has heavy expectations and demands upon those persons.  If you elect Paull as Bishop, treat him with consideration and respect.  He will need your prayer and support and encouragement.

Please, not all who are part of the congregations you serve are of one mind with you and this direction you are taking.  I’ve watched these people feel disenfranchised from the congregations they know and love as you’ve taken this path.  I have sought to help them find ways to remain in congregations where they no longer receive appropriate pastoral care.  This is some of the hardest work that lies ahead for you.  Please find respectful ways to care for these members of the body of Christ.  You have said that the ELCA left you, they tell me that their congregation has left them.  In most cases, they’ve been pretty quiet in the face of your enthusiasm.

In Christ,
Earl Janssen
Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, Severna Park, MD

16 responses to “Open Letter to Lutheran CORE

  1. Pastor Janssen, thank you for writing this. I have linked to it on my own blog.

    God bless.


  2. Pingback: North American Lutheran Church and an Open Letter « Simul Iustus et Peccator

  3. Pastor Bryan Anderson

    this letter is an unfortunate example of “sour grapes.” all of this nonsense reeks of smug elitism. to adapt a famous line, “pastor, know thyself…” there is no self critical reflection from this seemingly omniscient blogger or any charitable prayer for “the enemy.” instead a myopic piece of self justification and self deception. i am certain of one thing–this author believes he has written an erudite and charitable letter but he is only deceiving himself…

    • ponderingpastor

      Pastor Anderson,
      When you decide on someone’s motivation, you will frequently get it wrong, as you have done here. I believe the folks with Lutheran CORE are misguided and will make some awful mistakes in the coming days. I’m not so arrogant that I think that my “letter” will have any impact on that. There are areas I think Lutheran CORE has ignored, and want to bring some light to that. I am concerned for Paull, I count him as a friend. Charitable letter? Not really. Pleading that Lutheran CORE not compound its mistakes … absolutely.

  4. There is no “t” in Ryan’s name.

  5. I have been a member of the ELCA all my life ( I’m 69). The Church I just left has forgot the teachings of the Lutheran Church. Now they are leaving the teachings of God. Thats to bad. Now with the NALC starting we may get back to the way the Lutheran Church should be. God Bless us all.

    • ponderingpastor

      I’ve been a member of the ALC, LCA, and ELCA all my life and where the ELCA is now is pretty consistent with what I’ve been taught within this church since I can remember. This is and always has been a diverse church. I view the formation of the NALC with great sadness.

  6. Dear pp,
    I have been reading your thoughts this morning with my newborn grandson on my chest – 4 days old today. Its an interesting perspective in its own right. I will only note here that he was born to two strong personalities and in just a few years will show his own personality. I, too, was quite sad when my children left to go out on their own. But now, I have something new.

  7. Allowing for equal time, one may simply substitute the initials ELCA where you have written CORE & NALC.

    Keeping with the spirit of this post, I believe your prayers were answered in a favorable light, to an extent at least. The angst and ire so many believe run throughout LCORE was overcome by a rhetoric of compassionate nature during the convocation. It was quite refreshing.

  8. I find the whole CORE/NALC situation to be one that simply leaves me shaking my head. As others have stated, the ELCA is a diverse church and there is room for differing opinions. Those that have said the ELCA left them, not the other way around have (in my experience) focused on one issue and one issue only and that is the treatment/acceptance of homosexuals. I feel in 30 years those in CORE/NALC will feel the same sense of shame the generation ahead of me feels when explaining how there used to be “colored” water fountains and restrooms. Again, from experience, those I’ve met from the CORE/NALC are older white men who fear a world that refuses to remain stagnant in time and view.

    • Lutheranteach,
      I would suggest that you pay closer attention to the membership of NALC and CORE in the future. It is all but a foregone conclusion that the membership of NALC will be more ethnically diverse than the ELCA by the end of its first year. The number of young pastors and female pastors involved in both groups no doubt would surprise you. And I hope you would listen seriously to the concerns the people in both groups express concerning the ELCA. The sexuality issues are a symptom of deeper concerns.
      Marshall Hahn

  9. Pr. Janssen’s rants are bitter and condescending. He definitely has
    “sour grapes.”

  10. Wow… Braaten, Jensen, Nestingen, and the many other previous (and some current) ELCA theologians who support CORE/NALC and speak at our Theology Conferences are moving toward fundamentalism now? Crumley, Spring, and the other 7 previous ELCA Bishops who have either joined us or who support our cause are fundamentalists, huh? I suggest you get your hands on some articles and books written by these godly men. They are hardly the sort of people to be so easily labeled and summarily dismissed, as you have done here. They are serious thinkers with whom to be in dialogue, if you dare to take the risk.

    • ponderingpastor

      After your comment, I re-read my post (from about a year ago). I stand by what I said. Yes, I believe much of CORE has a fundamentalist leaning. That is not to say that some of the leaders are fundamentalists.

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