There was a query on the ELCA FB group as to why… I didn’t get around to responding, and the thread has since scrolled off the page. Alas, here would be my response.
We have the absolute best preflight announcements.
On a more serious note, there are a few key bits that really resonate with me.
- The ELCA does grace well… as we get accused of being antinomian. At the same time, the law is a big deal, a lot bigger I think than the law obsessed churches that make a lot of noise. Its not law, its not Gospel, its both, but they must be viewed through a societal lens, and overwhelmingly, the hundred + ELCA congregations I’ve been at do well with this.
- The 100% Saint 100% Sinner thing. Granted, some push the limits on this a bit, its a matter of daily regeneration, not a progressive holiness ladder thing, nor an antinomian thing, Personally, I think the “Weak on Sanctification” T shirt rocks.
- The real presence, and even better when its offered every Sunday, and even better than even better when its offered mid-week as well as Sunday. (And it would be super cool if compline could fit in there somewhere….)
- The extreme anti-pelagianism stance which permeates our theology and practice. Its never take a small step, and God will meet you, or climbing ladders, or reaching out to God, its always God to us, not us to God.
- Corporate confession and absolution, even for those who do not believe. (Granted, its controversial and was never really resolved back in ~1867
- The scriptures point to Jesus, they are not items for man’s idolatry or to be sacrelized. Some pastors I’ve heard use the term “feeding trough”. The Bible is a much bigger deal than the terms inerrant or infallible reduce it to.
- Paradox and the conflict rule, rather than reason and logic to bend and harmonize. Questioning is generally revered.
- The ecclesiastical structure of synods and churchwide, rather than independent congregational models.
- I really like the churchwide voting mix, where in its mostly lay folks and as of late, more and more young folks setting the direction. I wish we had more cultural diversity.
- The tent is huge:
- Ecumenicalism is a big deal
- Inclusion is a big deal. Gay folks are welcome, and are not barred from the pastorate whether they are in same gender relationships or not. Bound conscience provides for churches who dont approve of such.
- Change is constant and to be embraced. The tag line from CWA13 “Always being made new” is pretty cool, as was “God’s work our hands”
- Many don’t get too hung up on the confessions, some feel Luther was far from finished, some feel he was in error on a few things, some ascribe to the Book of Concord in total.
- High church and low church are both practiced. The only bird some have, including me, is pietism and its resulting legacy.
The ELCA has a lot of really cool, as well as some incredibly disturbing predecessor synod history. I wish well meaning folks hadn’t scrubbed and sanitized so much of it. We learn from error and scandal too.