After he participated in an interfaith memorial service for the Sandy Hook Elementary students a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Pastor was asked to apologize to the LCMS for worshipping with non Christians. The request came from the LCMS President and elicited the requested apology from the Newtown Connecticut Pastor. He apologized not for participating in the service but for causing offense to others in the Church. A minor but important distinction.
I honestly am confused about the reason for this apology and fear it may further antagonize those who judge the Church to be unwelcoming. Perhaps its hard for me to understand the concern because of my location outside the tradition.
From my perspective I don't see interfaith worship services as expressions of theological agreement. I think its possible to worship together without minimizing differences. In fact I think it is imperative to do so. It seems to me that this was a pastoral act intended to help a community heal rather than a statement of theological agreement.
If the Pastor had held a service in his Church just for those who were members to help them heal, wouldn't that send the message that the Church exists only for those who are already part of the club?
The real threat to the Gospel in this situation isn't theological compromise but rather the inability to live out the Good News.
I know that there are many LCMS members and Pastors that are also frustrated by this. There are also legitimate questions about whether this is merely an internal matter for the lcms. The bigger question however is whether there can be a distinction between internal and external issues for the church? I'm not sure there is... But that question requires some more thought.
(This is an edited version of my original post. I'm grateful to a colleague who rightly pointed out that some of the original language and conclusions were rather harsh. I apologize for allowing my frustration get the better of me.)