What does your conscience tell you? What does the church have to say?
Recently a state senator asked me if I was flying solo or representing the teachings of the ELCA when I talked to him about the problem of climate change. He wanted to know because he was a member of the ELCA as well. I got to explain that our church accepts the overwhelming data that informs us about the causes behind and the serious impacts of climate change claimed by 97% of all scientists. We belong to a church that responds to this knowledge with a passion to care for God’s creation.
What else can we claim as a church? Do you agree with the social statements carefully crafted over time with input from parishes around the country and experts, reliance on prayer, and discernment of scripture and Lutheran teachings? I personally have not always agreed with every position in the ELCA, and when I have disagreed it has not been lightly. I don’t think that anyone should blindly accept everything any institution teaches, or that you have to be in 100% agreement with your church to be a part of it. Martin Luther’s famous words, “Here I stand” reverberate through history. Luther talked about being captive to the Word of God and that he could not go against his conscience. What does your conscience tell you?
Our brand of Lutheranism has emerged out of a tradition of dynamic confessionalism. We teach that the Word in scripture and its interpretations through the lens of the Reformation are alive in our ever changing contexts. Sometimes we make mistakes as a church filled with imperfect people who want to be prophetic and who value consensus when deciding on how to engage as a public church. However, we cannot avoid being a public church. We have not been freed by grace to ignore injustice. We are called to be salty, to be light, and seek righteousness greater than what we find in the basics of the law – righteousness that engages our contexts complicated with problems and suffering, the particulars of which the early writers of scripture could not have identified. It’s up to us to discern in our hearts and in community how to act.
I feel grateful to be able to say that at this time in history my conscience is in alignment with the social statements, other teachings and advocacy work of my denomination. I believe we are on the right side of history welcoming refugees, seeking just immigration policies, addressing the root causes of poverty that impact citizens of all colors in our urban and rural areas, confronting the crisis of human trafficking and drug addiction, and caring for God’s creation. I could go on but I’m thinking mainly of our LOPPW priorities.
Saved by grace you are engaged with a larger community of saints. As you seek justice in response to the gift of grace, please know that you are not alone. This is important. You are not alone; your denomination is behind you.
God and your church are with you. Be well.
by Pastor Cindy Crane, LOPPW Director