Mark S. Hanson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
8765 W. Higgins Road
Chicago, IL 60631
Email - email@example.com
M. Moore, Ph.D.
President, Lipman Hearne
303 East Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601
Presiding Bishop Hanson, Dear Dr. Moore,
ELCA Communication Effectiveness Survey - An Open Letter
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.
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.
Replying to Written Communication
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.
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
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.
full discussion of the truth about CCM is available on the
Internet at - http://www.ccmverax.org
Duplicity and Doublespeak
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.
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.
Simple Use of Words and their Meanings
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
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).
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
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,
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."
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."
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.
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.
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 -
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."
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
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).
Communication and Faith
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."
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
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.
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.
is my preliminary response to the ELCA communication effectiveness