How come the Lutheran’s don’t get to play along?


Link: Wot, no schism? Who let Lutherans off?.

There is almost no reason at all for the ECLA to have avoided the ‘righteous’ hammering that has been dished out to the Episcopal Church in the USA. It has always surprised me. … The Lutherans in Canada and the U.S. have high and low. They have evangelicals, charismatics and woolly liberals within the same denomination – often within the same Synods and I assume that this is the case as well in the U.S.A. So why no public schisms? …

I do note, however, that the big money which is available to finance schism, opprobrium and liberal/moderate bashing has not been delegated to the Lutherans. If you go to the Institute for Religion and Democracy you’ll see little action tabs marked ‘Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopalian’. Either the Lutherans were neglected because the ‘L’ box was inadvertently left in the car by somebody who’d rushed home to see if the oven was still on or because those wishing to foment True Religion in the Lutheran church forgot to apply for funding.

For all those people who’ve been dimissive of Jim Naughton’s series “Following the Money” and its assertion that the IRD is deeply involved in formenting schism in the Anglican Communion really have a tough row to hoe explaining the difference between the internal dynamics in the ELCA and TEC.

I’ve said this before – tis a fine thing to work to change the direction of the Church if you believe it has gone into error. It’s another thing entirely to do it by proxy and refusing to be clear about what you are really up to.

(And now having strayed from my careful position laid out in my previous post here, I shall go and read Morning Prayer.)

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Fr. Knisely,
    My partner is an ELCA pastor; I work at an ELCA seminary. This is a question that often gets asked. One of the differences is polity. The ELCA is more centralized in some respects than ECUSA, so that local synodical changes are a lot more difficult, such as allowing for local option on gay issues, at the same time, simply jumping ship and taking the goods isn’t such an easy option on the synodical level, though parishes have been booted out or leave. They do, however, have their own version of The Network, Word Alone, which is waiting in the wings. Give it a few years. Schism may well come.
    At the parish level, congregations have much more power than in ECUSA, but on the synod (equivalent to a diocese) level, there is much more answerability to headquarters. It’s a strange mix carried in from the variety of bodies that came together to create the ELCA.
    Just my two cents.

  2. Nick,
    I suspect that the reason is much simpler. From the perspective of the IRD, the ELCA already lives in this country with two more conservative “parellel” jurisdictions: the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church (aka Wisconsin Synod). IRD did employ a “lobbyist” (a Lutheran pastor from the Allentown, PA area) to explore IRDs role with the ELCA but because of the nature of their polity and the other existing denominations, money was not spent in that direction. This could change…and, as usual, I reserve the right to be wrong.

  3. Thanks Christopher and Andrew for your added bits of information. I gracefully concede your points.
    But Andrew (and to lesser extent Christopher) I think the point that Rasberry Rabbit (and I) are making is still valid. I don’t doubt in the least that even if there wasn’t (and never had been) an organization like the IRD there would still be fissures in the TEC and the Anglican Communion, just as there are at present in the ELCA. The difference though is a the degree and energy caught up in managing those fissures. And I think we can agree that in large part, the responsibility for the difference is properly laid at the feet of the IRD.
    From what I’ve been told, the IRD’s mission, at one level, has been to reduce the effectiveness of the mainline Churches to speak prophetically to American society. The Episcopal Church used to do this very well. Now? Not so much. I give the IRD credit for that.

  4. Fr. Knisely,
    Point well taken. I think it may be though that those structural differences kept the IRD out of the ELCA–for now. That a quite hostile organization has funded fulmination to schism is troubling.

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