The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Evolution a work in progress by God

Readers react to kids in church, finding a pastor, state of ELCA

Spot on
The article on evolution was spot on. Although the concept of evolution can be traced to Aristotle, the Protestant Reformation inspired a literal interpretation of the Bible, essentially cutting out evolution — for biblical literalists — as a way God might have created humanity as well as the universe. Charles Darwin did not rule out the possibility that God was instrumental in creation: “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers having been originally breathed by the creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst his planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been made, and are being evolved.” Modern science assures us the world continues to evolve, subtly controlled by the hand of God.

J.R. Hanson
Colorado Springs, Colo.

It can work together

I greatly appreciate the article on evolution. A scientifically informed view of the world and an “incarnational” understanding of God’s work do fit well together. As to why the Bible doesn’t give an evolutionary account of creation, I recommend the essay “Couldn’t God Get it Right?” by Lutheran physicist, theologian and pastor George L. Murphy here.
Charles Austerberry
Omaha, Neb.

Thought rings true
I could have written Pastor Wesley C. Telyea’s column nearly verbatim. Even before I became a father to two children, I tried to go out of my way to welcome all children in worship, noisy or not. I always repeated this axiom: a congregation that doesn’t want to hear kids in worship will soon get its wish. I would only quibble that the children are not just the future of the church, they are a vital part of its present.
The Rev. Andrew C. Weaver
Mount Pleasant Mills, Pa.

Truth in numbers
Telyea’s column reminded me of my first Sunday worship at an internship site. Driving home, I asked my wife if she had noticed something different. We agreed. There was an unnatural silence in that congregation. There were no child noises. They had all been shuttled off to a nursery. Recently my wife happened to be looking at some statistics and noted that this congregation (which then numbered about 500 with two pastors) now worships an average of 59 weekly.
The Rev. David Redman
Fond du Lac, Wis.

What takes so long?
So the lead pastor (pope) of the Roman Catholic Church, with more than 1 billion members, resigns and 13 days later his replacement is chosen, installed and is at work. Our 70-member congregation went through nearly three years of hoops before we welcomed our new pastor. What is wrong with this picture?
The Rev. Paul A. Kruger
Cutler Bay, Fla.

More to the story
We regularly read how many congregations vote to leave the ELCA. How about also mentioning that there are 9,600 congregations in the ELCA? That gives a much more realistic picture of what is really happening. There are a lot of ELCA congregations out here that are, by the grace of God, happy and healthy and glad to be part of a church that struggles with the tough issues of life and in the middle of it all celebrates the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Spirit who keeps us going.
The Rev. Andrew C. Diehl III
Vero Beach, Fla.  

Vision for future
As one privileged to be a voting member at the 1987 Constituting Convention, I remember the feelings of hope and promise that were in the room. We believed God would bless our efforts at unity. By any measure, the last 25 years have been a time of great disappointment. Membership is down, worship attendance is down, mission support is down, and hundreds of congregations have closed or chosen to leave the ELCA. Something is wrong. This might be an opportune time to ask the Spirit to send us leadership to craft a vision that will move the ELCA into the future.
The Rev. Peter A. Rustico
Middletown, N.Y.

Back to Jesus
I read “The shrinking church” with interest. The ELCA has watered down the word of God for years, trying to fit its agenda. This began with the sexuality issues. Whether we want to admit it or not, there are many leaving the ELCA for this and other reasons related to Scripture. We need to get back to the basic teachings of Jesus.
Kathy Anderson
Sioux Falls, S.D.

Keep it up
I read each issue of The Lutheran and learn a lot from both positive and negative articles and columns. The world is changing in so many ways. Keep up the good work.
Earl Finkler
Medford, Wis.

Change upon change
It’s a choice for Christians: biblical revelation or existentialism; careful discernment or vivid imagination; unchanging truth or evolution of ideas; faith or proof; revelation or group think; religion or philosophy. In The Lutheran, most seem to accept the second choice. Some still say: “Change and decay in all around I see, O thou who changest not, abide with me.”
The Rev. Lester F. Polenz
Mansfield, Ohio

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February issue


Embracing diversity