Saturday, February 9, 2013

What the Ethiopian Evangelical Lutheran Church Can Teach Catholics and Protestants

This is one of two interesting Lutherans in the news posts I hope to do today.

First Thoughts reports on a bit of important news. See Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus severs ties with ELCA . The  ELCA is Evangelical Lutheran Church in America .

The official issue here is same sex marriage but as we see with other Protestant groups the splits have been building over other issues as well.

What I found most mind blowing about this article was the states about the Ethiopian Evangelical Church.

Gay sexuality, though, is only the latest presenting issue, as it has been for some one thousand congregations that have left the ELCA to form new associations. On an array of issues from abortion to the authority and role of scripture in church life the ELCA has been dismissive of everything that once marked it as a stable, orthodox denomination. Lutheran church life in Ethiopia compared to the ELCA can be summarized simply: On any given Sunday there are more Ethiopian Lutherans at worship than ELCA Lutherans in any one month.

The Mekane Yesus consisted of perhaps twenty thousand Lutherans in 1970. During a decade of persecution in the 1970s by the communist Derg the church grew enormously, while enduring church burnings, arrests of pastors, forced closings of church properties and, most notoriously, the abduction and murder of the sainted general secretary, Gudina Tumsa. By 1997, the Mekane Yesus reported 2.3 million members; the latest figures place the membership at 5.3 million.

That is just amazing. However we see this dynamic in both Catholic churches and Protestant and Evangelical faith communities in persecuted areas in places of great persecution like Africa and China.

One can not think at times that some of these Catholic Churches and as we see here Evangelical Lutherans look a lot more like the early Christians  and what they went through than we Christians in the West. However it is we in West that seem to be pushing the agenda and demanding X , Y , and Z of the worldwide Church even while our numbers are in decline and their numbers are increasing.

Now this is not to say the West has nothing to offer. I do think the West is correct to act in some outrage that a homosexual in some places are executed. I think Pope Benedict's POST-SYNODAL

APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION AFRICAE MUNUS is a good example of both talking about mutual gifts and some correction . Also needless to say what the Church of the West has to offer the Church worldwide on the problem of sex abuse in which some might still be in denial is great.

With that being said it does seem if we take the words of our various creeds serious about ONE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH it does seem perhaps we should be giving a lot more deference to Catholic and other faith communities  like the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus .


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