International Lutheran Council head concerned that Reformation, scriptural truth being lost
Kieschnick nonetheless grateful for ties with LWF
STUTTGART, 24 July 2010 (LWI) – The chairman of the International Lutheran Council expressed thanks for the relationships developed between The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), while at the same time lamenting the directions taken on matters of sexuality by some LWF member churches.
The Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, who is also president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a denomination in the United States, addressed the Eleventh Assembly of the LWF here and said he feared that “many of the sacred scriptural truths which precipitated the Reformation are in danger of being lost.”
Kieschnick said that challenges to Christian truth have “first been tolerated, then accepted, and now affirmed.” Christians today, he added, have no “general consensus of broad concurrence, not to mention complete agreement on what constitutes marriage in the eyes of God, or what is acceptable or non-acceptable sexual behavior.”
The ILC president was referring to on-going controversies in Lutheranism and other denominations over whether to bless same sex unions or allow non-celibate homosexuals to serve as pastors and other church workers.
The ILC, a fellowship of conservative Lutheran church bodies around the world, adopted a statement last year which regards “homosexuality as a violation of the will of God,” Kieschnick said. Some of the 34 churches that are in the ILC have associate membership in the LWF. Some LWF member churches have taken steps to endorse same sex unions and allow people who are gay and lesbian and in committed relationships to serve as pastors.
“I share these words with this Assembly neither to stand in judgment, nor ignoring the logs in my own eye,” he said, “but with a heavy heart.” Kieschnick said that such controversies can lead to “significant internal strife, serious spiritual conflict and even organic schism.”
Despite his concern that Reformation principles and biblical truth was in danger in some LWF churches, Kieschnick referred to LWF President Mark Hanson as “my brother in Christ” and expressed gratitude for his friendship. “While we do not agree on numerous matter of faith and life,” he said, “I have genuinely appreciated your fraternal collegiality and gentle spirit and pray God’s blessings on your future endeavors.”
Kieschnick’s term as president of the 2.3 million member LC-MS is at an end, for although he was a candidate for re-election, the Rev. Matthew Harrison was elected president by a slim margin, when the church met in convention this month. (397 words)