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Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)

2009 CWA: Possible reactions to the
social statement approval by God

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Possible reactions by God:

Many delegates to -- and observers of -- the CWA wondered what God thinks of the approval of the Social Statement?

There are at least three ways to assess the will of God:

bulletPray. A person can try praying to find out God's will. We noticed a few pictures in various media outlets that indicated delegates doing precisely that. However, assessing God's will via prayer can be a bit tricky. We conducted a pilot study in which volunteers were asked to assess the will of God through prayer on a related topic: same-sex marriage (SSM)? We found that:
bullet100% of those volunteers who personally favored SSM before praying about it reported that God fully agreed with them.
bullet100% of those volunteers who started the study being personally opposed to SSM reported that God fully agreed with them.
bulletAlmost all of the subjects taking part in the study were quite certain that God had communicated his will to them.

We made a number of conclusions from the pilot study: the main one is that devout, sincere, spiritual people may have confidence that they can assess the will of God through prayer, and yet be unable to do so.

It is really important that Christians and other theists understand the unreliability of prayer in assessing God's will. Most of the delegates probably prayed about the Social Statement. If the delegates obtained the same results as our pilot study subjects, then those qho personally favored the document would sense that God did as well; those opposed would sense that God were also opposed.

This situation can not only generate confusion, it can cause bad feelings as well. Those who opposed the document might well assume that its supporters were praying to assess God's will, had learned from God that he opposed it, and yet voted in favor of the social statement -- and vice versa. Feelings of hypocrisy and anger might have circulated by those who assume that God communicates his will through prayer.

bulletLook for physical manifestation(s) of God's will: A remarkable event occurred just before the vote was taken: a tornado hit the area.

According to the ELCA blog of Daniel J. Lehmann:

"... sirens and announcements marked the approach of the storm that raked Minneapolis. Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson told the more than 1,000 voting members to stay in the assembly hall. He later informed the crowd that a tornado nipped the building and damaged the steeple of nearby Central Lutheran Church. Minneapolis media reported no injuries." 1

The cross on top of the steeple was left inverted after the tornado. According to the belief of many conservative Christians, an inverted cross is a Satanic symbol. According to religious Satanists, it is not one of their symbols.

According to a comment added to his blog by "Joshua," Goodsoil, the Lutheran LGBT advocacy group held their worship service on the previous evening in that church. Some speculate that God was trying to send the ELCA church a message that he was displeased with the social statement.

John  Piper, a local Baptist minister and author of "Desiring God" wrote on his blog:

"... official church pronouncements that condone the very sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God, are evil. They dishonor God, contradict Scripture, and implicitly promote damnation where salvation is freely offered. ..."

"The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners." 2

On the other hand, "Lura" wrote:

"Or, a mighty wind is the sign of the Spirit moving! For those whose theology is meterologically inclined, the sun came out as the vote passed.  And the Goodsoil worship!  Had you been there, you would have had no doubt of Jesus' presence, and the power of the Spirit moving among us.  It was awe-inspiring!  And contained plenty of correctly oriented crosses.  ;)" 1

We received an anonymous Email stating that God was trying to send two messages to the ELCA. He caused the convention center to receive a glancing blow from the tornado, that simply meant "I am with you." Then he broke the cross either as a rejection of the use of a religious symbol derived from Pagan religions, or to deliver a general message to Christian denominations -- most of whom do not treat sexual minorities equally -- that they need to change their policies.

Logos Apologia placed a fascinating 6.33 minute video on YouTube with the statement:

"While it is a dark and sad day for those who once considered the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America a place of worship, the holy living God has displayed his glorious power in a overtly miraculous manner which is not often seen in the New Testament era. The ELCA voted to separate itself from biblical Christianity by accommodating and endorsing unrepentant homosexual relations on Wednesday August 19, 2009. At precisely 2 PM - the deadline for the "Social Statement on Human Sexuality" - the Lord sent a tornado, defying conventional wisdom, directly to the Minneapolis convention center and Central Lutheran Church area. So intentional and directed was this action that it sheered the cross clean off of the historic steeple while leaving the roof and building intact. In his mercy no one was harmed. A true historic miracle in the old testament vein, God in His infinite mercy has sent a clear warning. Lutherans are your hearts so hard that you cannot see God reaching out? Repent and return to sound doctrine - uphold the word of God."

"REPENT Lutherans - Repent! repent!"

The video shows a clear before and after video of the church steeple.

Thus, there were lots of signs around that might indicate God's pleasure or displeasure with the vote. Unfortunately, the signs pointed in opposite directions.

bulletObserve if the Holy Spirit is active in the CWA: Some delegates marveled at the vote data taken just after the tornado hit. The denomination's constitution required a 2/3rds super majority in order to pass the social statement. Support was 66.67%. Some observers considered this a working of the Holy Spirit: giving comfort to the progressives by allowing the document to pass, and yet giving comfort to the traditionalists by having it pass with the minimum possible number of votes.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Daniel J. Lehmann, "Hanson: Talk to one another," The Lutheran, 2009-AUG-22, at: http://www.thelutheran.org/
  2. John Piper. "The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality," Desiring God blog, 2009-AUG-20, at: http://www.desiringgod.org/

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Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-SEP-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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