Page 8 of this issue contains a 203-word article (“Another Lutheran body formed“) on the founding of another Lutheran denomination. No more, no less.

The North American Lutheran Church came about in response to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly decisions on sexuality. Its leadership hails from the ELCA roster. Many of the 18 churches that signed on before the actual creation of the NALC were once ELCA congregations.

What we have here is a classic case of schism — a formal division or separation in the Christian church. That cleaving causes pain as your editor knows, having left the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod decades ago in another schism.

So now the NALC becomes, in the eyes of this magazine, one more Lutheran denomination. Just as the staff follows major events in the life of the LCMS, the same will be true with the NALC. The Lutheran won’t give it any special coverage just because of its heritage. This group, like Elvis, has left the building.

That comes as a bit of a shock to some. The magazine turned down an advertisement sought by organizers of the NALC gathering. It promoted a theological symposium that served as a run-up to the constituting convention. Yes, many if not all of those involved were still on the ELCA roster, but their actions were schismatic. Why would the magazine assist with highlighting an event aimed at detracting, if not undermining, the ELCA? After all, The Lutheran is the magazine of the ELCA, not the NALC.

The overwhelming majority of those involved conduct themselves in a Christian manner and remain civil in their comments about the ELCA. A noted ELCA pastor blogged about his experience at the NALC gathering. In every way he wrote as a churchman, looking for the best in what was said there. Comments to his post were not so restrained.

One man, furious over a particular ELCA congregation that directs its mission to gays, in particular lesbians, opined in the comments section: “I only pray the ELCA goes up in some grand conflagration so as to set a warning to other denoms. Seriously, these people are ludicrous.”

In an equal show of pique, a man shot back: “Now they will have their own church where they can spit a fume to an appreciative audience. Those of us who remain happily in the ELCA feel that a festering boil has been lanced.”

It’s been said that alcohol removes the thin veneer we call civilization. Apparently, so does the Internet. Is it any wonder so many in this country want nothing to do with organized religion? Let’s all heed Martin Luther’s admonition: “The most dangerous sin of all is the presumption of righteousness.”

Daniel J. Lehmann

I am a lifelong Lutheran with decades of experience in secular journalism. Like many of you, I’m interested in the theological and historical roots of our faith and how that plays out in the contemporary world. I want to know what our church members and leaders are thinking, what other Lutherans are doing, how religion in general influences and is impacted by culture.
My favorite reading materials are newspapers, specialty magazines and non-fiction. I work hard, but never skip vacations in order to regroup.
I’ve been blessed with a spouse of 40 years, two children and seven grandchildren. My church is a focal point of life in Chicago. I answer my own phone, and respond to e-mail and letters (but usually not spleen-venting tirades).
And I'm a fan of the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks and Bulls, as well as the Art Institute, Field Museum, the lakefront and Millennium Park. Chicago's my kind of town.

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