Presbyterians and Lutherans

This article is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of others authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

June 20th, 2008

From the Chicago Tribune:

The nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination will tackle the question of gay and lesbian clergy at its biennial General Assembly next week (June 20-28) in San Jose, Calif.

From Deutche Welle:

German Lutherans in northern Schleswig will decide on July 12 whether to elect an openly gay bishop. Conservatives have opposed Horst Gorski’s candidacy, saying it would lead to divisions within the church.

These are but two examples of the ongoing battle within Mainline Protestant denominations over the issue of homosexuality. And I think that the end result is predictable.

Those who favor full inclusion and social justice will continue in their efforts to bring gay and lesbians Christians fully into the fold. In the meanwhile, they can continue in fellowship with those whom they believe are not quite there yet.

In time, as younger more gay-accepting people gain influence, these denominations will reach a tipping point in which gay acceptance outnumbers hard-liners. When that happens, these denominations will vote for full inclusion… and discover that fellowship only works in one direction. Those who ardently oppose gay inclusion will not be willing to stay in fellowship with “heretics” and scism will result.

However, I think that this will result in fewer denominations rather than more. It is my belief that this is a time of great religious realignment in America. And that after division liberal mainline denominations will join in a uniting movement towards a common identity. And to a lesser extent, the conservatives will do the same.

My prediction is that within the next 10 years at least one, and probably several, splits will occur in mainline denominations and that at least two will merge.

But, of course, this is all just speculation.

Ben in Oakland

June 20th, 2008

next you’ll be saying that maybe this really isn’t about religion at all, but a lot of people using religion as the rationale for their own issues, fears, and prejudices.

After all, if a Catholic and a Jew and a Muslim can sit down next to each other in fellowship, each knowing fully that the others’ belief systems are completely in error and abhorrent to G, and yet still agree that gay people are really, really bad…

…why, anything is possible.

How much could that possibly be about the actual sincerity of their profound religious values?

Liadan

June 21st, 2008

Sociopolitically, liberal denominations and churches already work together through other organizations, like conservative / evangelical denominations or churches do through groups like the NAE. That much is already a given. Certainly denominational affiliation is less important than it used to be; the main difference these days is whether a given church identifies itself with evangelicalism or not, and that’s a cross-denominational split.

My guess is that denominations are going to start going one way or another largely en masse, and the stragglers on the losing end of whichever way their denomination decides will probably jump ship to a different one entirely or go independent. More polarization, but probably fewer official schisms than one might imagine.

Ephilei

June 22nd, 2008

I think you’re right on the first, but not the second. There’s hardly any motivation for denominations to merge, even if they’re full compatible. They just don’t see the point. Anything advantage most Christians see can be done equally via ecumenical parachurch organizations.

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