Many ELCA members are asking how their denomination can allow and accept teachings that go against clear Biblical doctrine on such things as salvation in Jesus for those that believe (John 3:16) and homosexuality.
In order to better understand how the ELCA got to this point, one needs to analyze what the ELCA leadership believes and ELCA seminaries teach about Scripture. There are many things we could talk about here, but for now we will focus on the ELCA using the critical method of "Redaction Criticism" for studying and understanding the Bible. (read here - the ELCA removed the original link to this article but thanks to the internet you can still see it. Check out this link for a little bit more information on the ELCA and redaction criticism) What is Redaction Criticism? Redaction Criticism of the Bible is the theory that different copyists and commentators of the early biblical writings embellished and altered the biblical texts throughout early Jewish and Christian history to make them appear more miraculous, inspirational, and legitimate. An example of redaction theory would be the claim that Old Testament prophecies were modified by redactors after the fact to make them appear as miraculous prophecies. Redaction criticism reduces the quality of the biblical record, casts strong doubt on its inspiration, and implies that the Bible is not trustworthy as a historical document." (read here)
This method allows the leadership in the ELCA to discount prophecies and miracles, among other things. It also allows the belief that the Biblical authors embellished, exaggerated and, in other words, lied about things they wrote about. Is there any wonder why the ELCA, in their words, actions and policies, discount what God says in Scripture to entertain their worldly, human wishes and desires?
Redaction Criticism is one cause of the ELCA's eroding belief that all Scripture is from God, that it is timeless and that it's true.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
For people who disagree with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's policy changes on homosexuality, these have been trying times. Yet we are told, "The ELCA took pains to not declare winners and losers. But to rather acknowledge that we were not of one mind as a church body around these issues. That we affirm and support people of conscience who have conflicting views over this." - ELCA Saint Paul Area Synod Bishop Peter Rogness (watch here)
The truth is the ELCA does not affirm or support your view if you believe what Scripture says about homosexuality. They call your view “sinful” and view you as sinner for holding to Scripture.
Read this confession made July 2010 at the San Francisco ELCA Rite of Reception:
"Friends in Christ as we gather, we seek to speak the truth of the difficulties we have witnessed in our church.
Our church of the reformation has been too long captive to bias and misinformation.
We have not remembered the life giving words of our own Confessions.
We have not respected the gift of sexuality, nor the joy, delight and vulnerability sexual intimacy creates among loving partners.
We have not honored faithful and loving promises, marriages, and covenantal relationships.
We have not acted quickly enough for some who have died and have not made it to this day.
We have not accorded all families with the dignity and respect they deserve.
We have not spoken up.
We have betrayed fellow members of the body of Christ because of cultural prejudice.
We have misused Scripture as a tool of discrimination.
We have forced celibacy upon too many, a gift God grants to only a few.
We have encouraged silence and complicity.
We have promoted invisibility and dishonesty.
We have hardened our hearts with bitterness and condescension.
We have intimidated and disciplined, censured and expelled.
Our actions have destroyed faith and have led people away from the gospel's call to love and justice." (read here or watch here)
This confession claims that because of the ELCA's previous Scriptural based policies on homosexuality, the ELCA church body members (all of us in the denomination) are guilty of sin for believing and following them.
The ELCA changed its Scripture based policies on homosexuality in August of 2009. But what about those of us who still hold to the Biblical view? If following what Scripture says on homosexuality was a sin before the ELCA’s August 2009 policy change, in the ELCA's viewpoint, it would still be a sin to follow it today.
The ELCA confesses our sin again at the September 2010 Rite of Reception in Minneapolis, MN.
Former Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Herb Chilstrom reads,
"Blessed be the Holy Trinity, one God, who forgives our sin. Whose mercy endures forever.
Friends in Christ, as we gather, we seek to speak the truth of the church's troubled history with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of God. Too often our valued heritage of grace has been overwhelmed by messages of shame. We have fallen short in honoring all people of God and being an instrument of that grace . . .
We have dishonored faithful covenants and withheld from families the respect that they deserve. We continue to debate the worthiness of sanctioning couples whose unions are legally recognized and whose minds are implicitly rooted through the long standing fidelity of bonds of parenthood.
We have disciplined, censured and expelled when we could have listened, learned and included.
We have studied God's people withholding justice so long and countless dying believing their identities and relationships were not worthy of blessing or the church and baptizing.
Throughout our history many have left the church, others have hidden within the church and still others have been cast out of the church for speaking the truth of their lives. It is time to change our history. It is time to seek forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. This rite of reception is an overture to new beginnings throughout our church. . .
Already we have seen an oppressive policy overturned." (watch here)
I'd like to make a few points:
1) The ELCA invents a new sin. That sin is "believing what God said in scripture." And they confess this sin.
2) There are many of us in the ELCA (for now) that still believe what God said in scripture regarding homosexuality. Again, the ELCA views our position as sinful toward GLBT people.
3) As the two Rite of Reception services show, the ELCA doesn't respect our view, no matter how much lip service they give us saying they do.
4) What the ELCA does want is for us to remain in the ELCA and to continue sending them money.
5) How long will the ELCA allow you, your pastors or your church to hold the view that homosexuality is wrong, especially since they see this view as sinful?
Over the course of the last nine months Exposing the ELCA has been presenting you with documented facts on the ELCA's support of goddess worship, universalism, renaming God, and homosexuality (among many other things). These teachings did not just appear in 2010. No, they have been slowly weaving their way into the fabric of the ELCA for years.
Back in 1993 the ELCA helped fund a Re-Imagining God Conference. (read here) There were over 2000 participants with 313 being ELCA Lutherans, many of them being clergy, and some of them were conference speakers. (see here)
The purpose of this conference was "to re-imagine what belief in God and life together in community means from a Christian-feminist perspective." (Christian News, 21 March 1994, p. 1)
One writer described the Re-Imagining Gathering this way, "Many basic doctrines essential to the Christian faith were repudiated at (the conference), often in an atmosphere of disrespect. These include the doctrine of God, the deity of Christ, His atoning death, the sinfulness of humanity, the Genesis account of creation, the authority of Scriptures, and the biblical understanding of human sexuality. " (read here)
Here is one prayer said by those in attendance:
"Our maker Sophia, we are women in your image . . . With
the hot blood of our wombs we give form to new
life . . . Sophia, creator God, let your milk and honey
flow . . . With nectar between our thighs we invite a
lover, we birth a child; with our warm body fluids we remind the world of its pleasures and sensations . . . We
celebrate the sweat that pours from us during our labors. We celebrate the fingertips vibrating upon the skin of a lover. We celebrate the tongue which licks a wound or wets our lips. We celebrate our bodiliness, our physicality, the
sensations of pleasure, our oneness with earth and water." (read here)
This conference was not Christian. The things taught and spoken at this conference were blatantly against Scripture. Money from ELCA members, money meant for God's work, went to help fund this gathering.
Here are four articles on the conference which speaks in detail of the heretical happenings.
Exposing the ELCA made the following statement and asked this question of it's readers, "The ELCA, on it's website, argues against the Virgin Birth. Do you think Jesus was born of a virgin?"
The Results -
Yes 92.49% (271 votes)
No 7.51% (22 votes)
Total Votes: 293
This March, Rev. Jason Cooper of Emanuel Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Strawberry Point, Iowa, gave a sermon on the topic of sexual immorality using scripture from the lectionary on 1 Corinthians 10. (read here and listen here)
Toward the end of the service, a former church council president approached the microphone and voiced his disagreement with the message and claimed that Rev. Cooper had violated his "Letter of Call" for stating that the ELCA's new policies oppose God's directive in Scripture. (listen here - the last minute of the service)
This incident led to a meeting between Rev. Cooper, Northeast Iowa Synod Bishop Steven L. Ullestad and Assistant to the Bishop Mark Anderson. Rev. Cooper explained that during the meeting Bishop Ullestad informed him that if the former church council president followed through with his claim against the pastor, Bishop Ullestad "would rule against me, that I had, in fact, violated my Letter of Call. The only two things he specified, that I recall, was that I was a little too Catholic in my understanding of the . . . reason for sex. The second thing was that he said I couldn't say that the ELCA had violated the will of God."
At a second meeting, Rev. Cooper said that Bishop Ullestad told him "You don't understand. You could be in really serious trouble." Rev. Cooper replied, "Do what you have to do . . . I stand by what I said."
Rev. Cooper went on to say that during the meeting there "really was a feeling that either I recant or I was done, at least from the synod's perspective."
To set the context, Rev. Cooper had been the pastor at Emanuel Lutheran for 6 years, and it was his first call. The year prior to this incident, Rev. Cooper submitted his papers with the ELCA seeking a specific call, to which the bishop's office encouraged him to consider two or three other calls as well. But Rev. Cooper did not feel God was calling him to any of those positions at the time.
In February of this year, Rev. Cooper again submitted his papers seeking a new call. As of the first week of September, 2010, he has not received any profiles from any of the four ELCA synods to which he submitted his name, and none of the synods have talked with him.
According to Rev. Cooper, "When I asked the Bishop (Ullestad) flat out, 'Am I blacklisted?' He said, 'Well, congregations don't want pastors who cause problems.'"
So let's look at Rev. Cooper's record. Over the last 6 years, Emanuel Lutheran has met their expenses every year. Their benevolence has been at least 10% to 20%. They have seen an increase in worship attendance every year and received 40 new members in 2009, all in a town with a population of just over a 1000 people.
The only "problems" that Rev. Cooper can be accused of causing are that he took a public stand against the denomination's homosexuality policies and clearly stated that the ELCA is elevating their own view over the authority of Scripture. Rev. Cooper believes this is why the ELCA has refused to work with him as he seeks to find a new call.
Based on Rev. Cooper's testimony, it seems clear that the denomination wants to deny pastors the freedom to express publicly their "bound conscience," if it does not line up with the ELCA's decisions. It can further be understood that pastors are not to preach or teach anything other than what the ELCA social statement says.
With that in mind, pastors should remember that their responsibility is to faithfully live out his or her calling and the vows taken at ordination, most especially to teach and preach in accordance with the Holy Scriptures, the creeds and confessions. We all are ultimately responsible to God and God alone.
It is wrong for the ELCA or any denomination to prohibit or discourage pastors from teaching from the Word of God. It appears that the ELCA is trying to silence orthodox pastors, which should cause all of us to question the ELCA's motives and actions.
(Rev. Jason Cooper resigned from the ELCA, Sept. 2010)
Would you tell a Christian, who also practices witchcraft, that
1) It isn't a sin.
2) It's okay to continue practicing it.
3) Even if it is a sin, it's not a big deal because we are saved by grace.
No. Most Christians wouldn't say this. They would encourage the person involved in witchcraft to turn from this sin.
Persons involved in any sin, who have no desire to stop and repent, are in danger of bondage to sin and the devil.
But the ELCA tells people struggling with homosexuality that 1) it isn't a sin, and 2) it is okay to continue practicing it. Some ELCA people will say 3) even if it is a sin, it's not a big deal because we are saved by grace.
Encouraging people to stay in bondage to sin doesn't seem very "loving." In fact, being in bondage to sin can cause spiritual darkness in one's life, as well as put one's eternal destination at risk.
God tells us to turn from sin because He loves us.
The ELCA tells people struggling with homosexuality to keep sinning because, in all honesty, the ELCA has been deceived by the enemy.
When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
Exposing the ELCA's purpose is to inform members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) about the teachings, actions, policies and beliefs of the denomination. Up until this point we have been using the exposingtheelca.com website, Exposing the ELCA Facebook page and internet news sources to help accomplish this goal. On top of that, you, the readers of Exposing the ELCA, have played a huge role by telling your family, friends and fellow church members about the troublesome things going on in the ELCA (by email, word of mouth, and blogging).
I consider Exposing the ELCA a ministry of God. We care about individuals in our denomination, as well as those the ELCA is influencing. Many of the ELCA's teachings are leading people away from God and into an eternal destination of separation from Him. We do what we do out of love.
Because of this, over recent months Exposing the ELCA has expanded its efforts. There are 65 synods in the ELCA and 10,000 congregations. We want to send an introductory email to every pastor and congregation in the ELCA. At this point, we have sent approximately 500 of these emails.
There are many ELCA members who do not have email accounts, internet service or pastors who tell them what is happening in the denomination. Knowing this, over the last few weeks, Exposing the ELCA placed informational brochures on vehicles at two ELCA churches.
We welcome your help in standing up for the truth of God's Word and the salvation that Jesus offers. Please continue to share this website with people you know. Write about what is happening in the ELCA on your websites and blogs. Pass out brochures (see here) to ELCA members and churches in your community. Pray for this ministry. And if you feel called, donations are also welcome (see the "donate" button on the right side of the page). Thank you for all you do!
Rev. Tim Singleton is a ELCA pastor at New Horizons Lutheran Church in Falcon, CO. You may remember him from an previous article on Exposing the ELCA. (see here)
Rev. Singleton calls himself a Trinitarian Universalist. In a recent blog he explained, in detail, his thoughts on salvation. He said,
"I am convinced. . . that the Spirit of Christ is present within all compassionate faiths.
A rose by any other name is still a rose; and Christ by any other name is still Christ. Christians say Christ, Buddhists say Buddha, Hindus say Krishna, and so on — different names for the same Spiritual Reality revealed through different languages and cultures. Furthermore, God by any other name is still God. Jews say Hashem (Yahweh), Christians say Trinity, Muslims say Allah, Buddhists say Nirvana, Hindus say Brahma, Native Americans say Great Spirit, and Boy Scouts say Great Scout Master. These are different ways of addressing the Ultimate One, articulated through different languages and cultures — but God is God nonetheless." (read more of his blog here)
Rev. Singleton words are strikingly similar to comments made by ELCA Bishop Robert Rimbo of the Metropolitan New York Synod. He recently said, "We commend ourselves to the reliable and merciful arms of the God of Abraham, the God whom Jesus calls Abba, the God whom Muslims and Christians in various parts of the world call Allah. This God promises a reign in which all shall be well." (read here)
Rev. Singleton and Bishop Rimbo's opinion here is not Biblical. God clearly shows in Scripture that He is not the god of other religions. I Kings 18:21 says, "Elijah went before the people and said, 'How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.'" If you keep reading this chapter in I Kings you will find out that Elijah, the prophet of God, had the prophets of Baal killed. That is not an action a "god of all religions, just called by different names" would take.
II Kings 17: 35-39 says, "When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: 'Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. You must always be careful to keep the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.'"
God clearly tells us in His Scripture that He alone is to be worshipped (see Exodus 20:2-3). For the ELCA to allow and Rev. Singleton to say that the Father/Son/Holy Spirit is the same as the gods of other religions is heresy!
The ELCA is putting the souls of billions of people at risk by teaching and encouraging universalism.
Read more about Universalism in the ELCA
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America desires to pressure Israel. They want Israel to conform to the ELCA's vision of what peace should look like. "In April 2009 the ACCSR (Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility) approved a guide for congregations, synods and Lutheran institutions on how to develop a Selective purchasing policy" regarding Israel. (see here)
The ELCA's "Selective Purchasing Policy Guide - Middle East Strategy and Selective Purchasing Policy" tells us, "(i)n 2007, the Churchwide Assembly elaborated on these economic measures with the following action:
'To call upon the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to underscore the call for economic initiatives by this church and its members in the “Peace, Not Walls” campaign. Such initiatives, in consultation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, could include:
- purchasing of products from Palestinian providers and
- exploration of the feasibility of refusing to buy products produced in Israeli settlements. Also to be explored is the entire investment activity by this church.'” (see here)
This guide for congregations, synods and Lutheran institutions includes a link to a "list of products to avoid from the (Israeli) settlements."
Not only is the ELCA trying to encourage an unofficial boycott of products made in parts of Israel, they are also putting pressure on American companies to stop them from selling products to Israel, as seen here,
"Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility (ACCSR) recommended in November of 2006 (and subsequently adopted in the spring 2007) the following plan of action for the programs work: . . .
- Continue the dialogue with Caterpillar on development of a human rights policy, expressing our continuing concern with the presence of their product in the Middle East hostilities and destruction of Palestinian homes.
- Continue to review the possibility of approaching other companies on a human rights (resolution) basis.
- Consider at the ACCSR the opportunities and limitations for fulfilling the mandate of the Peace Not Walls campaign relative to the stewardship of resources, specifically in the area of multinational corporations that have established facilities or operations in the Occupied Territories (as defined by the United Nations)." (read here)
So let me get this straight, the ELCA's plan is to hurt Israelis economically and try to force them to give up their businesses, homes and land that God promised them, putting themselves in more peril, so that Arabs, including some who are Christian, can live in a female oppressive society, under Sharia Law, where Christians are persecuted for their faith?
Here is a link for "A Policy Agenda for The New Administration: From Communities of Faith." (see here)
This document was put together by eleven national faith communities and institutions, including the ELCA. It can be found on the official ELCA website. (see here)
The document is filled with global poverty and world conflict policy recommendations for the President of the United States.
Section number 7 on Climate Change says,
"It is vital that the U.S. joins the rest of the global family and take effective, cooperative, and just action on climate change, making the critical linkages with global poverty. To this end, U.S. policy must recognize our responsibility for creating a disproportionate share of greenhouse gas emissions and the fact that those who are bearing a disproportionate share of the consequences are impoverished, marginalized communities in low income nations.
The gravity of climate change, the nature of its ramifications, and the scope of strategies required to
effectively address it require a re-examination of all aspects of U.S. foreign policy. Climate change will not only exacerbate demands on existing programs such as emergency/disaster relief, immigration, hunger and food aid, global health, and women’s and girls’ empowerment, but also require fresh strategies to address economic development, trade, debt relief, and global security.
Specifically, we urge the next Administration to:
- Provide a U.S. fair share of adaptation funding, directing it to the countries which are most vulnerable to climate change. This funding should be above and beyond current foreign assistance levels and be seen as compensation for harm done, not as an optional act of goodwill.
- -- The primary focus of adaptation funding must be to: build resilience and adaptive capacity in vulnerable, local communities; address magnified disaster assistance and relief needs; and to include climate change in development planning.
- -- Adaptation funding should be provided through channels that are transparent, accountable,
and fully responsive to the needs of affected communities in developing countries, ensuring
that the interests and needs of women and girls are included.
- Couple U.S. adaptation funding with a thorough reassessment of the economic and military premises which serve as the foundations of our foreign policy."
Many people question whether climate change is happening and if so, if its caused by man. I find it premature and careless for our denominations to recommend that the citizens of the United States make "adaptation" payments to other countries for "damage" done to them because of global warming that the United States supposedly caused.
The Climate Change policy recommendation is just one part of 19 pages worth of recommendations to the US President.
Throughout the document, the eleven religious institutions suggest the United States fund a multitude of programs, as well as "(f)ully finance, by pressing for Congressional appropriations, the world’s existing debt cancellation mechanisms."
It's easy to spend other people's money, I guess. I wonder when the ELCA and it's mainline denominational friends will write the president and lobby congress asking them to not spend money they do not have.
Look over the rest of the document and see what policies you, as a member of the ELCA, are advocating for.