WordAlone - A Declaration of Selective Fellowship
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A Declaration of Selective Fellowship

Author Unknown

Date Unknown

There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

So spoke William Shakespeare. So must we now take the current that serves the witness to the Gospel and the confession of Christ both within the church and before the world, “or lose our ventures.”

At the Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Hannover in 1952, Bishop Eivind Bergrav of Norway was discussing the future of the church in the midst of emerging welfare states. The Bishop declared there that the church should always insist on two rights whatever restrictions the governments might place on the church--the right to teach and preach the Gospel and the right to carry on works of love for the poor and the sick — two mandates intrinsic to the church.

The aforementioned rights in the civil arena are nonnegotiable. Within the church catholic there are some nonnegotiable elements that constitute the very essence of the church. The Lutheran churches have declared in the Augsburg Confession that unity exists where there is agreement in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the administration of the sacraments. In our confessional statements we have committed ourselves to strive for that unity within Christendom.

There is a current flowing in the life of the church, which, if taken, will lead only to miseries and destroy the unity we seek within Christendom, as well as effectively negate the mandate given to the church by Christ to preach the Gospel and to call all women and men to repentance and faith.

It was Kierkegaard who, perhaps looking forward to the dangers the church faces in our days, as well as his own, spoke so eloquently. Warning the church of his time not to overlook the “offense” of the demands of the Gospel on the Christian life. He said:

I could be tempted to make another proposal to Christendom. Let us collect all the New Testaments there are in existence, let us carry them out to an open place or upon a mountain, and then while we all kneel down, let some one address God in this fashion; Take this book back again; we men, being such as we now are, are no good at all for dealing with a thing like this which only makes us unhappy.

The current of our age calls us to walk away from the clear testimony of Scripture. The current of our age calls us to open the door to, and actually bless sexual activities that would negate the discipline of the marriage of male and female and the only alternative, a life of celibacy, as the norm in the Christian tradition, the norm of Scripture. Indeed, the current of our age would lead us to declare that committed same sex unions are a part of the order of creation. The current of our age would lead us away from Scripture, Confessions, sound reason, and the ecumenical consensus; and this in the face of the admonition, “do not add to his words, or else he will rebuke you, and you will be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:6)

Martin Luther began his "Disputation On the Power And Efficacy of Indulgences" by stating, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “repent” (Matt. 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” In the face of the general disorientation of society regarding the family and the break down of marriage, the identification of the self as a sexual consumer, the tearing of millions of fetuses from the womb, and now the assault on the very orders of creation, we bow before the Lord God in sorrow and repentance asking for mercy and forgiveness.

We, the signers of this declaration, will not take the current of the age. We choose to take the current that serves the witness to the Christ, the call to repentance and faith, and the pursuit of unity within the whole church, inspired by Scripture and our Lutheran Confessions.

We will teach our children and all the members of our parishes that God calls us to holiness of life and that the lifelong marriage of male and female is God’s design for humankind, according to Scripture, the Catechism, and the ecumenical consensus.

We will welcome all persons into our fellowship, recognizing that all have fallen short of the glory of God, recognizing that all are in need of forgiveness and life and salvation.

We live in an immoral and sick society and we will provide counsel and help for all who recognize their need to be restored to health and wholeness.

We painfully recognize and acknowledge that we are already out of fellowship with those brothers and sisters who insist on proclaiming a gospel of false security and illusory hope, and who insist on blessing sexual relationships other than that of the marriage of male and female.

We cannot in good conscience financially or otherwise support any structure or institution within the churches that would teach or permit the blessing of any sexual relationship other than the marriage of male and female.

We will seek to be in selective fellowship with all other Christians who so teach and who so live in submission to Scripture and the teachings of the Lutheran Confessions and the church catholic.

This is the current we will take and none other, so help us God. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.