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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A theology of dissent

We're called to dissent faithfully through reconciliation

In the ELCA, dissent attracts a lot of attention and energy. What’s missing is a much-needed conversation about theological grounds for dissent within the church.

While we’re guaranteed the right to dissent within our nation, we have the privilege of engaging in the vocation of dissent within our church. When we were baptized, God established a relationship with each of us, calling us to follow Jesus as our Lord. That call challenged us to live in the world as Jesus lives and get involved in God’s transforming work in our midst. Why distinguish between dissent as a right and dissent as a calling? Because God, not you or I, reforms the church. Our call is to participate in God’s work—as a community.

No one holds a monopoly on discerning just where Jesus is going. When our dissent is faithful to our baptismal calling, it enhances the church’s ability to discern God’s reign together. Dissent that hinders this mission is unfaithful to our calling.


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