Posted by Lilly from ? (188.8.131.52) on Friday, July 12, 2002 at 4:02PM :
that Lutheran minister you mentioned was a pastor for a Missouri Synod church... notoriously conservative, & FAR from representative of the Lutheran Church, in its entirety. There is another conservative Lutheran Synod in the States, the Wisconsin Synod - more conservative that the Missouri Synod.
Then, there is a more "liberal" branch of the Lutheran Church in America, the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America). This branch is considered to be most similar to the Scandinavian Lutheran churches, according to my mother. Anyway, clergy from this branch are allowed to commune with other priests/congregations & avidly support the Palestinian cause. I tend to like ELCA pastors best - I had a good friend who was an ELCA pastor one summer.
There are currently two major Lutheran bodies in the U.S. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). Both Churches believe in Justification by faith, confess the historic catholic creeds, and uphold Scripture as the source and norm of all teaching. Lutheran beliefs and how they relate to catholic teaching are spelled out in the Book of Concord ,1580. To the casual observer there is very little difference between the two. Perhaps the most obvious difference is that Missouri Synod communion is closed to all but Missouri Synod members in most congregations, whereas ELCA churches tend to invite all baptized believers who affirm the real presence of Christ to their altars.
When the US was settled, Lutheran immigrants came Germany and Scandinavian countries and soon started congregations. Most of these Lutherans came for economic or political reasons and not necessarily seeking religious freedom. Gradually, these congregations found it to their advantage to join with other congregations and various ministerial associations, alliances, ministeriums, etc. were formed. These eventually merged into regional Churches and finally in 1988 became the ELCA. The ELCA has a presiding bishop and is comprised of Synods each with its own Bishop.
Unlike the churches that came to be the ELCA, the Lutherans who formed the Missouri Synod came to America in 1839 to preserve a pure Lutheranism. The Missouri Synod has a president and is subdivided into districts each with its own president.
The Missouri synod is more conservative than the ELCA, politically and religiously. For instance, he ELCA ordains women, and the Missouri Synod does not. The ELCA is also more apt to read the Confessions (The Book of Concord) in their historical context and make concessions for current theological trends, the Missouri Synod makes no such concessions. This means whereas the ELCA has entered into full-communion agreements with the Reformed Churches, the Moravian Church and the Episcopal Church, and has endorsed the joint Lutheran/Catholic statement of Justification, the LCMS on the other hand do not allow its pastors to officially participate in any kind of worship service with non LCMS Lutherans and still officially declares the pope to be the Anti-Christ.
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