Is The ACELC a subversive group?
adjective – tending or intending to subvert or overthrow, destroy, or undermine an established or existing system, especially a legally constituted government or a set of beliefs.1
In a recent conversation with a young pastor, he was telling me how impressed he and his circuit pastors were with the ACELC film, “If Not Now, When?” and also the many study documents available on the ACELC web site.
Naturally I thanked him and then I asked him how it was that his entire circuit would have been exposed to the film and web site at the same time. He responded that his circuit had decided to use the ACELC materials for their circuit study as a part of the Koinonia Project. Several years ago, Synod 1st
Vice-President Herbert Mueller publicly stated that the ACELC materials would be good for such a study, but this was the first time I had heard of an entire circuit actually doing so. I was ecstatic!
But the ecstasy didn’t last long, for when I asked him if any individuals or congregations were thinking about ACELC membership, he hung his head. The zeal of the circuit pastors was crushed by one comment. When one pastor mentioned to his District President that they were intending to join the ACELC, he was told to have nothing to with that “subversive group.” Those words stung and they still do. It began an intense time of soul-searching for me. The ACELC has received its share of criticism and critique. Often, the criticisms could have been easily stilled if people would have actually read our materials instead of trying to read our hearts or assign motives. We have done everything in the light of day and every word from the ACELC is available on our web site. The accusation of “malcontents trying to start their own synod” has been and continues to be refuted. But one word stuck in my craw ... is
the ACELC a subversive
subversive to call for the LCMS to return to God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions with regard to doctrine and practice? Is it
subversive to desire unity in doctrine and practice regarding Communion practice, worship, mission, the Office of the Holy Ministry, and ecclesiastical supervision? I would submit to you that it is not subversive, but courageous. We will continue to sound the alarm and be the “barking dogs” to rouse our beloved synod from its sleep. We will continue to work within the synodical system where we can and point out the errors in that system where we must. And what about the charge of being subversive? I encourage you to examine what we have done and what we continue to do. I would humbly submit that no one can be intellectually honest and make any claim of subversion.
We continue to take to heart these words from C.F.W. Walther, “A true Lutheran relies on God's Word and is unconcerned even though the whole world were to ridicule and despise him for it.”2
Rev. Clint K. Poppe, Chairman, ACELC
Law and Gospel, lecture 17, Dau 173.