This past Sunday I attended an historic congregation in Charleston, South Carolina of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (the most liberal branch of Lutheranism). Sadly, they are using the ELCA's red hymnal that has hymns like "Mothering God, you gave me birth". The hymnal has also de-sexed all the of the Psalms to get rid of masculine pronouns for God (feminist theology in the ELCA thinks it is sexist to continually refer to God as "He"). The new hymnal has also changed the Apostle's Creed to get rid of hell and leaves out the line that Jesus "descended into hell." There was a prayer during the confessional about how we have "wounded the earth by our excess". The service did include some references to God the Father, so it wasn't as bad as what I saw next.
As I was sightseeing in Charleston a few hours later, I walked by an old Congregational Church (United Church of Christ). In front of the church was a big "gay friendly" rainbow banner with the words "God is still speaking". That is the United Church of Christ's motto which, I believe, means God is telling us new things today--things our Christian forefathers didn't know about (like inclusive God language, gay inclusion, etc). The forefathers of the UCC were the Pilgrims, Christians who definitely believed in the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Today in the UCC one can deny all those things and be a pastor. I slipped into the church as the service was ending and grabbed a bulletin. The opening hymn was just strange:
Why should we call these accidental furrows roads?
Everyone who moves on , walks like Jesus, on the sea,
You walking, your footprints are the road, and nothing else;
There is no road, walker, you make the road by walking...
Walker, there is no road, only wind-trails in the sea...
Who knows what that meant. The bulletin reads regarding the Lord's Prayer:
The leader will say "Our Mother, our Father..." Please feel free to address God in the way that is most true to your understanding.
That is the tragedy of the United Church of Christ. You get to make up your own version of God and whittle Him down to your own convenient image. Does it not strike people as arrogant that they are correcting Jesus Christ by rewriting His Lord's Prayer? The bulletin then advertised a new Sunday morning class "Is There Another Way? Teaching an Alternative Orthodoxy Within the Christian Tradition", a course from the Living School at the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. But, I thought, if its an "alternate way", then it isn't orthodoxy. "Orthodox" means "correct belief" and my guess is that class will be anything but that.
So, be careful where you go to church! And if your church that you have loved for 50 years has abandoned the faith, time to move on. Hard to do, yes, but it is time for Christians to use their time, talents, and money to support churches which honor God.
Pastor Tom Brock