The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) over the weekend became the first mainline Protestant denomination to elect a transgender bishop.
Rev. Megan Rohrer, a biological female who uses the pronouns “he” and “they,” was elected May 8 to serve as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod of the ELCA, according to a press release.
Elected on the fifth ballot with 209 votes during an online synod assembly, Rohrer narrowly defeated the Rev. Jeff R. Johnson of Berkeley, California, who received 207 votes.
Rohrer, who presently pastors Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco and is also Community Chaplain Coordinator for the San Francisco Police Department, will be installed in the position of authority on Sept. 11 at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Walnut Creek, California.
Rohrer celebrated the victory by praising the synod for dismantling the clerical standards set by the First Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, which was the first ecumenical gathering of bishops in church history and produced the famous Nicene Creed.
“The first council of Nicaea’s first action was to try to limit the leadership roles of trans pastors and bishops,” Rohrer wrote. “I’m grateful the Lutherans of the [Sierra Pacific Synod] are beginning to dismantle this and some of the … other hurdles BIPOC [black, indigenous, and people of color] and LGBTQ pastor’s [sic] encounter.”
Presumably Rohrer was referring to Canon 1 of the Council, which forbids those who have castrated themselves from serving in the clergy.
The first council of Nicaea’s first action was to try to limit the leadership roles of trans pastors and bishops. I’m grateful the Lutherans of the @sps_elca are beginning to dismantle this and some of the the other hurdles BIPOC and LGBTQ pastor’s encounter.
— Bishop-elect Megan Rohrer (@mmrohrer) May 9, 2021
Mark Tooley, who is president of the theologically conservative think tank Institute on Religion & Democracy in Washington, D.C., likened Rohrer’s attitude to that which prevailed among the Gnostics of the first century, who “[rejected] ecumenical orthodoxy in favor of secret knowledge stressing self-actualization and inner journeys instead of salvation and worshipping the Creator.”
“Bishop Rohrer says she’s glad her liberal Mainline Protestant denomination is ‘beginning to dismantle’ the injustice at the Council of Nicaea,” Tooley wrote. “No doubt much more dismantling must be done before true justice and knowledge can prevail against the external authority of revelation proposed by historic Christianity. Or so the Gnostics, yesterday and today, always proclaim.”
By affirming transgender behavior, the ELCA, which claims their “roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther,” are at odds with the teachings of their founder, who wrote:
In order to proceed aright let us direct our attention to Genesis 1 [:27], “So God created man . . . male and female he created them.” From this passage we may be assured that God divided mankind into two classes, namely, male and female, or a he and a she. This was so pleasing to him that he himself called it a good creation [Gen. 1:31]. Therefore, each one of us must have the kind of body God has created for us. I cannot make myself a woman, nor can you make yourself a man; we do not have that power. But we are exactly as he created us: I a man and you a woman. Moreover, he wills to have his excellent handiwork honored as his divine creation, and not despised. The man is not to despise or scoff at the woman or her body, nor the woman the man. But each should honor the other’s image and body as a divine and good creation that is well‑pleasing unto God himself.
LGBT issues are increasingly causing divisions within mainline Protestant churches, with Southern Baptist pastor and theologian Al Mohler recently going so far as to claim there are “two religions” forming because of the disagreements.
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