30 September 2002

Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
8765 W. Higgins Road
Chicago, IL 60631
Email - bishop@elca.org

Robert M. Moore, Ph.D.
President, Lipman Hearne
303 East Wacker Drive
Suite 3010
Chicago, IL 60601

Dear Presiding Bishop Hanson, Dear Dr. Moore,

Re: ELCA Communication Effectiveness Survey - An Open Letter

I wish to thank the Presiding Bishop for his email message from 17 September 2002 informing me of my selection to participate in an electronic Web?based survey that will help the ELCA assess the effectiveness of the print and electronic communication it produces. Likewise, I thank Dr. Moore for his email message from 18 September 2002 informing me of how I may do so at the Lipman Hearne web site. In the first instance, I would respond as follows.

The commissioned survey regarding the effectiveness of ELCA communication is timely as the ELCA appears to have many serious communication difficulties. I draw your attention to the following areas.

1. Replying to Written Communication

More than one year ago on 28 September 2001, I wrote Bishop Hanson a letter with an enclosed research paper detailing the fundamentally flawed and deceptive nature of the ecumenical agreement between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church in the USA, entitled Called to Common Mission (CCM). This material was sent by Certified Mail to ELCA offices for Bishop Hanson in St. Paul, Minnesota and in Chicago, Illinois. The same information with a similar cover letter was also sent to all ELCA bishops, church council members, and seminary presidents. The same material in the form of a published article (Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology, (Epiphany 2002), 11: 1, 21-28) was finally sent to member church leaders of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Although I have received positive answers to my letters and research literally from the other side of the world, I have yet to receive responses either from Presiding Bishop Hanson or from the vast majority of ELCA leaders mentioned above.

Replying to written communication is not only a matter of politeness but also a matter of extreme importance given the nature of the matter of deception at hand. It seems a terrible waste of congregational benevolence funds to hire a consultancy firm to encourage ELCA leaders to answer their post, but I would be grateful if Lipman Hearne could include this as an explicit recommendation in its final report to Presiding Bishop Hanson.

[For those unfamiliar with the matter of grand deception in CCM, two things should be explained.
First, it is important to understand that CCM §11 states that the Lutheran Reformers "deeply desired" bishops in "historic succession" (historic episcopacy) like the Episcopal Church claims to have. This implies that the Lutheran Confessions (statements of faith) sanction the Episcopal Church's conditions for "full communion" with other churches. Research published in 1995, however, indicates that the Lutheran Reformers knew nothing of a tradition resembling "historic episcopacy" when the Confession in question was written. This research also shows that the Lutheran Reformers rejected this concept when it was later "rediscovered" (read invented). Finally, one of the ELCA's CCM drafters was familiar with this research before he helped write CCM. In short, CCM was advanced and passed with a known suppression of the truth.

Second, to provide an historical context, when the Pilgrim Fathers came to the New World for religious freedom, they were chiefly seeking to escape English episcopalianism. Episcopalianism (or now called Anglicanism) is characterized by a certain and historically conditioned form of often brutal religious intolerance. Perpetration of this religious intolerance has led to the suffering and death of thousands through persecution, imprisonment, confiscation of goods and property, ejection from ecclesial and other offices, execution, and civil war. In order to have "full communion" with the Episcopal Church, ELCA officials by grandly deceiving the ELCA membership have introduced this religious intolerance into the ELCA. Now, they must enforce this intolerance against new ELCA bishops and pastors (with only a few exceptions for the latter). The reader should bear this in mind for the following points.

A full discussion of the truth about CCM is available on the Internet at - http://www.ccmverax.org

2. Duplicity and Doublespeak

In order to persuade the ELCA membership to accept Anglican "historic episcopacy" and related religious intolerance, CCM employs considerable duplicity and doublespeak. For example, according to CCM §15 the ELCA says that Presiding Bishop Hanson has been "installed" into the "historic episcopate," but the Episcopal Church says that he has been "ordained" into it. These are two fundamentally different concepts. Further, CCM §16 indicates that the ELCA must accept an "historic episcopate" and associated religious intolerance for "full communion" with the Episcopal Church, but the Introduction to CCM describes this Episcopalian demand as a "gift" to be accepted "freely" by the ELCA (CCM §18). A "required gift" is an oxymoron. Finally, the Episcopal Church describes its succession of bishops as an "historic catholic episcopate" (CCM §13), while the ELCA thinks that it can convert this tradition into an "evangelical" "historic episcopate" (CCM §12). Again, these are not the same.

Plainly, CCM is an agreement of unreconcilable disagreements. Thus, the "historic episcopate" in CCM cannot be a sign of unity (CCM §12). Instead, it is the reality of enforced religious uniformity which is contrary both to the gospel (evangel) of Jesus Christ and to the Lutheran confessional understanding of evangelical freedom.

Perhaps, the ELCA is seeking help from Lipman Hearne in order to discipline its organs of communication to speak out of both sides of their mouths so adeptly that no one will notice ELCA duplicity and doublespeak.

3. Simple Use of Words and their Meanings

An essential element of the Reformation was Martin Luther's attempt to understand biblical texts in the simple or plain meanings of the grammar, words, and texts. At that time, this concept revolutionized biblical interpretation. In light of CCM and its official church support, the ELCA apparently seeks to eliminate this key understanding of evangelical (Protestant) communication.

Further to the preceding section, in the September edition of The Lutheran magazine, Presiding Bishop Hanson wants to allege that the "historic episcopate" in CCM can be "evangelical." He states, "An evangelical episcopate helps us see more clearly where the text of Scripture intersects with the context of our lives. ... An evangelical episcopate helps us see more clearly the unity we share in Christ with global companions and ecumenical partners and the possibilities for shared mission those relationships give" (http://www.thelutheran.org/0209/page53.html).

As most Christians know, the word "evangelical" refers to the "good news" or the "gospel" of Jesus Christ. In sharp contrast, "historic episcopacy" has no foundation either in Scripture or in the gospel.

By adopting CCM, the ELCA has abandoned the Reformation principle of "Scripture alone" (sola scriptura). Furthermore, as Jesus Christ himself was persecuted, beaten, and executed, it is most unlikely that he would oblige ecumenical partners to share unity in him through a tradition steeped in the violent excesses of religious intolerance. Finally, the "historic episcopate" in CCM is anchored in 17th century, English parliamentary and ecclesial law. These laws sought to eradicate all non-episcopalian forms of Christian expression in England and Wales. So, in the Lutheran schema of law and gospel, this tradition is wholly human law and not holy gospel. In fact, the "historic episcopate" in CCM is diametrically opposed to Christ and his gospel.

Nevertheless, like CCM the ELCA Presiding Bishop not only ignores the simple meaning of "evangelical," but he also tries to annul its nature. Describing the "historic episcopate" in CCM as being "of the gospel" is little different from advancing a concept like "evangelical racism."

I would be grateful if Lipman Hearne could recommend in its final report that ELCA officials abide by the simple or plain use of grammar, words, and texts. Such is not only a matter of Reformation precedent, but it is also imperative to communicate basic standards of intellectual and ethical integrity. Twisting the meanings of Scripture and of the Lutheran Confessions to effect and maintain the passage of CCM is at best irresponsible and at worst diabolical. If ELCA officials continue to employ words contrary to their meanings, then in the course of time no one will be able to distinguish the difference between words like "sin" and "forgiveness", "hell" and "heaven", "Satan" and "Jesus Christ" when they are used by ELCA organs of communication.

4. Institutional Hypocrisy

The adoption of CCM has turned the ELCA into an agency of institutional hypocrisy. This is seen most plainly when the ELCA issues ethical and social statements.

As described briefly above, the historic religious intolerance introduced into the ELCA via CCM has been advanced and enforced through all manner of injustice and brutality, including war. In 2001, when he was installed (or ordained) into the "historic episcopate," Presiding Bishop Hanson became part of this religious intolerance. Now, he must enforce such intolerance against the ELCA's new bishops and pastors. CCM has created near unprecedented conflict in the ELCA. CCM has led ELCA leaders to demonize and persecute opponents of the agreement. In short, CCM has turned the ELCA into a denomination at war with itself.

Despite this present reality, Presiding Bishop Hanson issued a statement on 30 August 2002 regarding possible war with Iraq (http://www.elca.org/bishop/m_iraq.html). In an excerpt therefrom Presiding Bishop Hanson states,

"Our church has developed and is expanding a practice of engaging in moral deliberation on difficult social issues. Now is a time for such deliberation. During these discussions it is important for all of us to listen to and respect the views of everyone. We must oppose racist and enemy images that dehumanize, deny the love of God for all people and do not help in resolving conflict. ... In the final analysis, we must stand unequivocally for peace."

One is reminded of Jesus words, "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Matt. 7:5 - RSV). In light of the continuing strife over "historic episcopacy" in CCM, the ELCA stands not for peace or love or reconciliation but for ecclesial, social, and ethical hypocrisy. Thanks to the required "gift" in CCM, the ELCA is now overseen by a "hypocrite episcopate."

One has to wonder whether ELCA officials hope that Lipman Hearne can help transform the institutional hypocrisy now characteristic of the ELCA's social and ethical communiques into something more akin to benign irony.

5. Editorial Inconsistency

Having studied as a Lutheran World Federation scholar in the former East Germany (1986-87), I have had more exposure to the ideological propaganda of an oppressive regime than I would care to encounter again. Compared to the crude methods employed by that regime, however, the ELCA propagates its ecumenical ideology in a more refined way. By repeatedly manipulating facts, history, and theological principles, ELCA organs of communication have managed to beguile much of the ELCA membership into believing that abandoning Lutheranism through CCM represents no noticeable change to the ELCA.

Unfortunately of late, and this may be the reason for the communication survey, the ELCA's Department for Communication has slipped and has revealed a glimpse of the ideological reality behind the ELCA's deceitful ecumenical propaganda. In the September-October edition of its publication, Seeds for the Parish (p. 2 - http://www.elca.org/co/seeds/septoct02.pdf), Communication Department officials write,

"In light of our church's commitment to ecumenical relations, it may be a good idea to shift away from a focus on the 16th century Lutheran Reformation and its readings ('the truth shall set you free') and move toward an ecumenical celebration of reconciliation and the on-going reformation of the church."

The ELCA's official plan for Reformation Day can be likened to the US government declaring it a "good idea" to dissolve Independence Day (Fourth of July) in favour of celebrating the Queen of England's coronation. This "good idea" is so absurd as to defy belief. None of the ELCA's full communion partners would begrudge the ELCA celebrating Reformation Day. Consistent with CCM, however, ELCA officials deeply desire to shift away from the truths of the gospel (doing church) in order to move toward the myth and mirth of an ecumenical fantasy land (playing church). All this is being accomplished at the expense of the ELCA's trusting membership.

Perhaps ELCA officials hope that Lipman Hearne can devise effective strategies for ensuring lockstep ecumenical propaganda within the ELCA hierarchy. In my opinion, it would be much easier to rename the said publication to Seeds for the Perish (of Lutheranism in the ELCA).

6. Communication and Faith

As many are aware, I am married to a Welsh, Anglican (Episcopalian) lady. Our marriage is founded upon and sustained by the promises of God given to humanity in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our wedding vows reflect God's eternal promise of love which we share in faith with one another and with all Christians. As Ephesians 4:4-6 states, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all."

Contrary to this oneness in Christ, a marriage based on the conditions for "visible unity" in CCM would be markedly different. If our marriage were characterized by CCM, then my wife (Episcopalian) would be fully married to me (Lutheran) beginning on our wedding day. I, however, would only be fully married to her after I had undergone enough cosmetic surgery to make us look virtually indistinguishable. This concept of "visible unity" represents a gross perversion both of the nature of marriage and of the nature of true Christian unity. The goal of hierarchical "visible unity" as demanded by CCM is the rotten fruit of an atheistic ecumenism.

As Article VII of the Augsburg Confession (a Lutheran statement of faith) clearly states, the church is "the assembly of all believers among whom the gospel is purely preached and the holy sacraments are administered according to the gospel." Church is thereby a gospel communication-event of Jesus Christ. This gospel is enough for the true unity of the church because Christ makes himself present in this way in the community of those who believe in him.

If ELCA officials via CCM no longer believe that Christ is the only true source and means of church unity, then they have apparently lost faith in the reality of the living presence and lordship of Christ as he communicates himself in word and sacrament. It must be asked, what more than Christ himself could true believers desire?

It seems highly unlikely that paid communication consultants will be able effectively to address either this lack of faith or the resultant crises of character in ELCA officialdom. Nevertheless, if Lipman Hearne hopes to effect such faith, then I and many others within and without the ELCA wish Lipman Hearne the success that has thus far eluded us.

This is my preliminary response to the ELCA communication effectiveness survey.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Menacher