The Purpose of the ACELC
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Titus 1:9
Ever since the Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (ACELC) mailed out our Fraternal Admonition in 2010 and officially formed in 2011, people have called into question the purpose of the group. I would like to take this opportunity to answer some lingering questions and clear up any confusion; in other words, to set the record straight.
Is the ACELC a secret organization? Absolutely not! Everything the ACELC does is out in the open and available for viewing and critique on our web site. This is how it has been from the very beginning and this it how it will stay. We welcome and encourage everyone to check out our efforts and provide feedback.
Is the ACELC trying to start a new synod? Absolutely not! If we were trying to start a new synod why would we have gone to the trouble, effort, and expense to call the LCMS to repentance for and correction of the errors that are being tolerated and promoted in our midst? If we wanted to leave, we could have easily done so. We are no “shadow synod” nor do we want to be. We are no one’s ecclesiastical supervisor nor do we seek to be. Our power is the Word of God.
Is the ACELC a schismatic group? Absolutely not! We seek unity not division. Unity is not the result of human effort but a gift from God. True unity in doctrine and practice under God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions has always been a hallmark of the LCMS and we long for the day when our beloved synod is united once again. All of our efforts are to that end.
Why an organization of congregations? Isn’t this the work of pastors? Absolutely not! The Church is pastor and people together. Too often in the past reform efforts have failed because pastors failed to educate their people as to the real nature of issues in the church. When pastor and people speak the Truth of God’s Word with united voice, the Church thrives.
Wouldn’t it have been better to use the Dispute Resolution Process? Absolutely not! The dispute Resolution Process, as it currently stands in the LCMS, is hopelessly broken and is one of the ten errors we have identified. We have worked within the system where we could, filing three official dissents with the CTCR, but we could not in good conscience use the DRP. Our most recent Free Conference tackled this issue and I encourage you to check out the many fine presentations.
It’s been nearly six years; are the efforts of the ACELC a failure? Absolutely not! We have been able to make the good confession and 31 congregations and nearly 200 individuals have answered our call. The purpose of the ACELC is to go out of business and no longer be needed as a call to repentance in the LCMS. That will happen when the Presidium and all of our District Presidents agree that these errors actually do exist in our midst and agree to work to resolve them. At our most recent ACELC business meeting we reaffirmed the purpose of the ACELC:
Article II: Purpose 1. The ACELC shall exist to give a united voice against errors that are officially adopted in convention, tolerated, and/or promoted in the LCMS.
Specifically, the ACELC will:
- Press upon the synod the importance, necessity, and urgency of directly addressing these errors;
- Make known the unity of concern over these errors;
- Produce documentation and resources on what the errors are, why they are errors, what consequences the errors cause, and how to correct the errors and institute biblical practices that hold the promise of God’s blessing;
- Pool resources for distribution of this documentation and resources; and,
- Work toward unity of faith between congregations in ministry and missions to the end of faithful proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations, that the Holy Spirit may work “when and where he pleases, in those who hear the Gospel” (AC V).
- Purpose 2. The ACELC shall promote, preserve, and proclaim orthodox Lutheran doctrine and practice.
Christ has shed His holy, innocent blood and risen victorious over death and the grave for His beloved bride, the Church. We pray for unity in His Word. Until that day the ACELC will continue to be “barking dogs” in the LCMS.
A preacher must not only feed the sheep so as to instruct them how they are to be good Christians, but he must also keep the wolves from attacking the sheep and leading them astray with false doctrine and error; for the devil is never idle. Nowadays there are many people who are quite ready to tolerate our preaching of the Gospel as long as we do not cry out against the wolves and preach against the prelates.
"But though I preach the truth, feed the sheep well, and give them good instruction, this is still not enough unless the sheep are also guarded and protected so that wolves do not come and carry them off. For what sort of building is it if I throw away stones and then watch another throw them back in? The wolf can readily tolerate a good pasture for the sheep, he likes them the better for their fatness. But what he cannot endure is the hostile bark of the dogs." (1)
Rev. Clint K. Poppe
1. What Luther Says, Volume 2, (St. Louis: CPH), 1959, 1053. Quoted in C. F. W. Walther: The American Luther, Essays in Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of Carl Walther’s Death, (Mankato, MN:Walther Press), 1987, 2-3.