The following information is from a speech called "Equipping the Saints for Ministry: ‘These are the times that try our souls’ - by Pastor Gary Jepson from Puyallup, Washington.
Last fall, I wrote an email to our ELCA Bishop, Mark Hanson, asking him if he was aware of the ELCA congregation in San Francisco, Ebenezer Lutheran Church. I was pretty sure that he was aware but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. If you are not aware of this congregation, look it up on the Internet – www.herchurch.org. In short, this is a congregation that has been taken over by a radical feminist element and pastor, and it practices “goddess worship.” It does not confess the Trinity as Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit. They confess Mother, Christ Sophia, and Holy Spirit. If you go to their website you will be able to buy a rosary (strange enough in a Lutheran context, but not necessarily bad), a rosary, not with a cross (because that’s a symbol not of divine love, sacrifice, and salvation but of divine child abuse), but a rosary with a goddess figure on it. The goddess is the likeness of a fertility goddess from ancient Baalism. Baalism, of course, isn’t a problem for the leaders of Ebenezer Lutheran Church because all that stuff in the Old Testament condemning the Baal cult and fertility worship is in their view merely patriarchal paranoia in an effort to repress the feminine.Now, I think all of us would agree that they have the right (as individuals and as a group) to believe whatever they want. They can even band together to start their own congregation, denomination, or religion. However, on the basis of their own posted statements, they claim to be an ELCA congregation. But they are in complete violation of the ELCA constitutional faith statement because they are completely at odds with the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions.And the pastor is completely at odds with the ELCA “Visions and Expectations” statement for clergy. How do they justify that? How do they justify hijacking a congregation founded and paid for by Lutherans?So, I wrote Bp. Hanson and asked him what he was going to do about it. He, of course, did not respond to my e-mail (and I did not expect that he would), but his executive secretary did. He wrote something to the effect: “Dear Rev. Jepsen, thank you for sharing your concerns with Bp. Hanson. You are aware, of course, that the ELCA is organized into synods (Duh – I didn’t know that! I’ve only been a pastor for over 30 years!) and that it is therefore the responsibility of the local synod bishop to deal with these sorts of issues in his synod. And, do remember, the ELCA is an inclusive church.”Of course I know the ELCA is organized in synods! What I wanted to know was whether or not Bp. Hanson was going to do anything about this situation to hold this congregation accountable, or to hold the synod bishop of the San Francisco area accountable for his failure to discipline the congregation and its pastor in terms of their violation of the ELCA faith statement and such.
You see, what we have here is a major violation of the fiduciary responsibility of the synod bishop and of Bp. Hanson to fulfill the responsibilities of their offices. And, if he’s going to do that, why on earth did we ever need bishops (overseers) in the first place? And why did we need the historic episcopate when one of the arguments for it was to strengthen the “magisterial” (teaching) office of the church in order to insure orthodoxy?!!?
Can you imagine the Apostle Paul allowing that? Or Martin Luther? Can you imagine Pope Benedict XVI allowing one of his bishops to deal so irresponsibly with a rogue congregation? And then just wash his hands of the matter!!! Frankly that’s not only a violation of Bp. Hanson’s fiduciary responsibility as Bishop, it’s also a violation of his ordination vows to preach and teach in accordance with the Scriptures and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. Unfortunately, I was so disgusted with that e-mail that I deleted it so I cannot produce it as evidence. You have to trust my memory.
So, on this basis, we have a cynical commentary right out of ELCA headquarters on what ordination vows mean for our church. Little or nothing! What do the words of the ELCA faith statement mean? Little or nothing! Instead, in place of our ordination vows and faith statement we have some fuzzyheaded notion of “tolerance” and “inclusivity”! Because, if what I have described is accurate (and it is), then it appears that in the ELCA you can preach and teach heretical doctrine, thumb your nose at the Scriptures, the Lutheran Confessions, and so on (so long as you do liturgy correctly). Do all that and you will be welcomed in the ELCA with open arms because, after all “we are an inclusive church!” However, if you raise a question about heretical doctrine and improper procedure you will be virtually banished for “intolerance”, and treated as if you don’t exist!
At least the Roman Catholic Church of Luther’s day took him seriously enough to excommunicate him. The ELCA just banishes you, ignores you, and refuses to answer legitimate inquiry.
This is what happens when a church is seduced by the culture of death into cultural agendas and into cynical methods of interpretation when a church is not only in the world, but also too much of the world. Then it fails (by submitting itself to the heretical rubric of “tolerance”) to hold people accountable to its founding documents and statements of faith.
Whether intentionally or not, the very leaders we elected to lead and guide us in accordance with our founding documents have now, in effect, subverted those documents without any clear statement of why or where they are trying to take us.
Does this bewilder you as much as it does me? I am bewildered because I fail to understand the reason or the logic that enables them to justify their actions. In fact, there appears to be an abandonment of reason and rationality when it comes to these practices and trends. I suppose, in their thinking, logic and reason are just a vestige of patriarchy and its repression of the more holistic feminine embrace of feelings and intuition.Read the full speech here.
The most widely read blog that I’ve ever written is Revealed: ELCA Leadership on Evolution, Creation. In it I expose over 1500 ELCA leaders who proudly support evolution and are vehemently against the historic account of creation as told in Genesis by God.
Below I have quotes from two of those ELCA leaders, talking about their support of evolution and their strong feelings against the Biblical account of creation.
“When I read the creation story in Genesis I have always (at least since I have been able to think beyond mere stories) seen the universe coming together just as God wanted and just as evolutionary theory teaches,” says ELCA pastor Cynthia Hopp of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Bird Island, MN
Pastor Hopp goes on to say this about people (creationists) who believe God’s account of Creation, “Their God is more of an idol - and a very weak one at that. I don't recognize him.”
Retired ELCA Pastor Frederick W. Reklau tells us, “Creationism and so-called ‘intelligent design’ cannot stand unchallenged.”
“The right question about Genesis 1-2. . .is, 'What is the purpose of these stories?'. . . those stories tell of our privileges and responsibilities as beings who have been created out of love by the One who has created all things, visible and invisible. Those who go mining for other meanings (of their own invention, not God's intention) rob the texts of their true purpose, and of their true power to shape and validate our lives as God's spirit-mind-body creations. . .(see here)
So believing the clear reading of Genesis 1 and 2 is wrong and robs the texts of their meaning and power? The right way to read the Biblical creation account is to deny its clear, historical reading and view them as made up stories?
Is “up” really “down?” Is “right” wrong and “wrong” right? It seems so with these pastors.
God is not a liar. I believe what He says; I believe that God made the universe the way He said He did. Why do we allow people who do not believe God’s Word to be our pastors?
The ELCA’s The Lutheran magazine published a story recently called “Finding a common word: Virginia dialogue pairs Lutherans and Muslims” (see here).
In the article we learn of a group composed of mostly Lutherans and Muslims who gather for dialog. The group meets twice-a-month on Saturday mornings and begin their dialogue “with ‘Al Fatiha,’ the opening prayer of the Quran” and end the meeting with the Lord's Prayer.
Not only that, we are also told, “Group leader Dan Jungkuntz is a pastoral counselor and ELCA pastor. ‘I am so touched by what I have learned about Islam,’ he said. Each week, he now joins the Muslims' Friday prayer at a local mosque.”
What are ELCA leaders doing? Why is praying to a god that is not the Father, Son and Holy Spirit okay? Has the ELCA leadership decided that the 1st Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3), is not to be followed anymore? And it is down right evil for the ELCA to publish and promote what this pastor is doing. They know they are influencing their members to do the same and to be accepting of it, something that is in complete opposition to what God tells us in Scripture.
Don Carlson, assistant to the bishop of the ELCA’s Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod wrote the following in an article on synod bishop Michael Rinehart’s Blog:
“‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’
What I hear is, ‘Don’t worry. God is saving – eternal lifing – the whole world (kosmon) through Messiah Jesus.’”
“And what does it mean to be ‘saved?’ Can we explore that without superimposing on it Anselm’s 11th century theory of substitutionary atonement? Can we think about it without dragging in all the ‘personal Lord and Savior’ baggage. I think ‘eternal life’ is as much about life before death as it is life after death; perhaps even more. What does ‘eternal life’ look like as we live together following this Messiah Jesus who has been lifted up and drawn us – and all people – unto himself?” (see here)
There is a strong stench of universalism in the Assistant to the Bishop’s writing. (Universalism is a theological doctrine that says all human beings will eventually be saved.) It is not surprising, but it is wrong. Universalism goes against the teachings of Christ and all of Scripture, and it puts individuals eternal future at high risk (hell). Read more here and here.Here is more evidence of universalism being taught by ELCA leadership.
Exposing the ELCA asked its readers, “Should the ELCA be working with an organization which has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood? (as Exposing the ELCA reported)” here.
The results were:48 people said “Yes” (15.89%)
245 people said “No” (81.13%)
9 people said “I Don't Know” (2.98%) Total Votes: 302
The ELCA Campus Ministry at the University of North Dakota hosted a two day seminar conducted by Jesus Seminar On The Road. (see here)
Want to know what the Jesus Seminar is about? Here is a quote from Robert Funk, the founder of the Jesus Seminar.
“We should give Jesus a demotion. It is no longer credible to think of Jesus as divine. Jesus’ divinity goes together with the old theistic way of thinking about God.
The plot early Christians invented for a divine redeemer figure is as archaic as the mythology in which it is framed. A Jesus who drops down out of heaven, performs some magical act that frees human beings from the power of sin, rises from the dead, and returns to heaven is simply no longer credible. The notion that he will return at the end of time and sit in cosmic judgment is equally incredible. We must find a new plot for a more credible Jesus.” (read here)
For more information on the Jesus Seminar read this article.
The “Women of the ELCA” published an article by former male, transgender lesbian, ELCA pastor Megan Rohrer in their publication called Café (see here)
The Southeastern Iowa Synod recently released it’s financials/Synod Budget. Under their
“Evangelical Mission” section we find out that the synod gave a whopping $1,103 for that purpose in 2011. The synod received a total of $2,588,899 during the same year. (see here)
“Doesn’t Matter If You’re Straight or Gay.”
So says a song played at the ELCA’s 2012 Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Extravaganza is “. . .the annual gathering of adults (professional and volunteers) who work with children and youth in ELCA congregations around the country.” (see here)
This performance was recorded on video and placed on youtube by the “ELCA Youth Ministry Network,” which makes me think they are happy with this portrayal of the denomination, a song that encourages people to live in sin. (What about repentance ELCA leaders?)
The song is called “Party in the ELCA” (it is a parody of a Miley Cyrus song “Party in the USA.”)
The chorus goes:
"We don’t put our hands up when we’re singing to God…
Traditional is how we praise
Nodding our head? No way!
Stand and sit on repeat all day!
We’re coming as we are (sinners and saints)
Doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay
YEAH! It’s a party in the ELCA!
YEAH! It’s a party in the ELCA!"
In the comments section of a different video of the song, (see here) someone who claims to be the singer in this video says that he will be recording this song with another singer who goes by the name, Agape. (see Agape collaborate on "Party in the ELCA" here, at the 3 min. mark)
What makes that of interest is that Agape is scheduled to perform at the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering. (see here) I wonder if this song will make an appearance there? After all, they are already singing it for a gathering of the ELCA youth's leaders.
Also during a difference performance of the song and we find out “that the bishop of the ELCA is in the house.”
I’d like to share some emails with you that I have received from some non-tolerant, vocal, angry ELCA supporters. Here are just a few direct quotes:
“Why not just go to seminary and pay the price for wearing the collar instead of this b******t? You really do not have the corner on the truth but somehow have grasped that you can stir the pot quite easily. Not a very Christian thing to do. Satan.”
“You got to be kiddng. One assumes you represent no one. You are a fraud. No Christian would behave this wave. Your disgusting.”
“Quit whining, and just leave the ELCA already. Those of us who remain members do so because we love our churches, believe the ELCA continues to follow the word of God and does so without preaching bitterness or anger (which you guys seem to love to do) and find comfort from it. Just leave, go start your own denomination and find some peace. Please.”
“When did you become God and get to judge everyone else? This website is a joke and you should be very ashamed of yourselves....Just as God is of you! Jesus did not teach us to hate and judge others. Fear and intolerance is all that you are preaching. It is sad...and funny!”
“Shades of Joe McCarthy! Again, have you no shame?”
“God is neither male nor female, but has both masculine and feminine qualities. If God is man, then men are gods. The few instances of ELCA Female God are to recognize this. You are not exposing the ELCA. You are exposing your hate and ignorance.”
I know many of you have also had this kind of anger directed at you. While it is never enjoyable to be verbally attacked, Christ warned us that this would happen. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
As far as these comments go, I will just say that God has called me to this ministry of sharing and exposing what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America teaches, believes and promotes. The Bible tells us, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11) It is out of love for God and love and concern for others that I, and many of you, speak out in the face of anger and ridicule.