My dear friend the Lutheran Zephyr asked a question a while back about being Lutheran. What does it mean? The first thing that came to mind is that being Lutheran means learning to live with the gray areas. And I suppose I should clarify by saying that I think this is part of being an ELCA Lutheran but not necessarily a part of being WELS for example. The ELCA is not always one to give black and white answers and I like that. Some examples...
On the topic of abortion, the social statement of the church states that whatever decision a woman or couple may make, there will be grief and a need for healing. I appreciate the wisdom in all of that. There's more elbow room to struggle with the impact of this choice pastorally and faithfully.
On the topic of Biblical inerrancy, the ELCA constitution says that we believe all scripture to be the inspired word of God. This means that I have had parishioners with a wide variety of beliefs about inerrancy and all of them could be comfortable with the constitution of their church.
Some people don't like when things get fuzzy or gray. But I'm not sure that this is about the gray areas as much as it is about living on the razor's edge.
The Razor's Edge is a 1944 novel by W. Somerset Maugham. In the 1984 film of the novel, the main character, played interestingly enough by Bill Murray, is told "The path to salvation is narrow and is difficult to walk as a razor's edge." What I mean by all of this is that as a Lutheran, I am encouraged even challenged to struggle with what it means to live a life of faith. I am not lead around by the nose. Instead I am called to carefully think and pray and discuss the issues of the day.
Over and under and around all of this are some concrete things. Sola Fide. Sola Scriptura. Sola Gracia. Simul Justus et Pecatur! Faith, Scripture, Grace. I'm a saint and sinner all rolled up into one. I am justified and I am being sanctified.