A Lutheran pastor has been forced to apologize for appearing on stage during the December 16 nationally-televised interfaith prayer vigil that was also attended by President Obama. The vigil was called to honor the memories of the 20 slain first-grade children and six adults who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Rob Morris, a pastor at the Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, Connecticut, belongs to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod sect, which has about 2.3 million members worldwide, although most are in the upper midwest of the United States.
Pastor Morris’ sect believes it is a sin to worship alongside other religions — which, in his apology, he labels “false” — lest his presence give the appearance of legitimacy to other religions. He was called upon to apologize by the members of his church.
“Because it was not Mr. Morris’s intention to give the impression that the other faiths were equally valid, Mr. Harrison called on Lutherans upset by what had happened to accept Mr. Morris’s apology and support him and his congregation ‘especially in providing funding for Christ the King as it continues to care for victims,’ he wrote in his letter,” the New York Times reports.
Morris, who appeared with many other faiths during the evening prayer vigil, explains, stating “some have expressed concern and in some cases public rebuke that my participation in the televised prayer vigil on Sunday night has hindered our ability to speak this Christian truth into a pluralistic culture. The fear is that by sharing the stage with false teachers, I have diminished the proclamation of the truth which is ours by grace through faith in Christ.”
The pastor, serving his first year in Newtown, adds that, “we do have a God-given responsibility to be on our guard against all kinds of false teaching. Prior to the events of 12/14, I had already spent hours with my own congregation, catechizing them as to the differences between our Lutheran understanding of Scriptural teaching, the various other denominations’ teachings, and the teachings of false religions such as Islam or B’Hai. I had likewise spent time with my fellow clergy in Newtown clarifying the ways I can and cannot engage in events like joint clergy dialogues (which are good to engage in), joint caring efforts (only within limits), and joint worship (not possible).
Thus, to those who believe that I have endorsed false teaching, I assure you that was not my intent, and I give you my unreserved apologies.
Reasoning that “extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary decisions,” Morris adds:
I apologize where I have caused offense by pushing Christian freedom too far, and I request you charitably receive my apology.
While Pastor Morris’ Lutheran sect is highly conservative, it is not as conservative as the one Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann belonged to until she ran for president, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Bachmann’s church in 2011 called the Pope the “anti-Christ.”
Image via YouTube
Hat tip: Gawker
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