Inez Torres Davis, the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (WELCA) Director for Justice, is a regular writer for WELCA's website. She made this statement in her latest contribution to that website:
“I pray to discover Sofia’s guidance so that I may identify and then take actions that carry God’s promises.” (see here)
I don't know how Inez Davis defines “Sofia,” whether it is some gnostic, feminist feminizing of God or if it is the pagan deity
. But neither is right and it should be rejected by Bible-believing Christians.
The ELCA's North Carolina Synod had this announcement in their latest e-newsletter:
LGBT Couples Retreat--Saturday, May 11
Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in Fairview, NC, will host an LGBT Couples Retreat on Saturday, May 11, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This one-day retreat offers a time apart for LGBT couples to work on their communication skills and meet other couples who value spirituality as an important part of their relationship. There will be time for worship, relationship building, Bible study, and fellowship. The cost of this retreat is $40 per couple which includes a light breakfast and lunch.
The retreat is made possible by a grant Abiding Savior received from Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. "This is an area of ministry with the LGBT community that our congregation thought was missing," says the Rev. David Eck, pastor of Abiding Savior. To download the brochure and register for this event, please go to the Abiding Savior website.
(see here) This is the ELCA. And Bible-believing members are having it forced upon them.
The ELCA's Southwest California Synod recently wrote this on their Facebook page:
“If you and your spouse/partner are Portico Benefits members, please complete the survey before April 30 and save the synod’s congregations and ministries money!”
The ELCA 1991 Social Statement on the Death Penalty declared “we oppose the death penalty.” (see here)
The ELCA's Rocky Mountain Synod is publicly advocating the repeal of the death penalty. Their March e-newsletter said this:
Abolition Sunday - Focusing on Repealing the Death Penalty
Lutheran Advocacy Ministry - CO has been involved with a coalition working to repeal the death penalty in Colorado for many years. This year is the year! We ask everyone to get involved to support the repeal of the death penalty. As Christians, we are called to be committed to justice and oppose the death penalty. "Executions harm society by mirroring and reinforcing existing injustice. The death penalty distracts us from our work toward a just society. It deforms our response to violence at the individual, familial, institutional, and systemic levels. It perpetuates cycles of violence" (ELCA Social Statement).
One way you can take part is participating in Abolition Sunday. During Abolition Sunday, you can host a guest speaker, watch a movie on the death penalty, gather facts sheets and petitions, and contact your Representative and Senator to support the repeal of the death penalty.
(See here) So the ELCA believes the Bible is supportive of homosexual relations and abortions but is against the death penalty? They must be living in a Bizzaro World where right is wrong, up is down and wisdom is foolishness.
Exposing the ELCA has added a new page to the website detailing Gospel Reductionism and Antinomianism in the ELCA. (see here)Gospel Reductionism and Antinomianism are troubling views and are growing more prominent within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.Gospel Reductionism is "the tendency to reduce the Bible to the gospel. Gospel reductionism tends to allow the Bible authority only in matters which are explicitly part of the gospel or may be developed from the gospel. Exponents of gospel reductionism believe that considerable freedom should be allowed within the church in matters which are not an explicit part of the gospel. In this way, the rest of the Bible is relativised; it does not have the same authority. Instead of the gospel and scripture, the tendency is for only the gospel to become the standard (the norm) of Christian teaching." (read here)
Antinomianism is defined as "(t)he doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace." (read here)
A self described universalist and Christian gnostic (listen here) is freely preaching to and teaching youth in the ELCA. Neil Christopher is an ELCA youth pastor at Rejoice Lutheran Church (ELCA) of Frisco, TX. (see here)
While speaking on a podcast Pastor Christopher said,
" . . . We believe in the fact that salvation is grace and grace alone and that it's freely given, and that it's given to
all . . . whether they accept that grace or not, or like whether they have even heard the message or not, or full on reject it. So we don't do altar calls and we don't tell people that they are going to go to hell, and we don't have any kind of teaching that is based on guilt or shame or any of that."
"Right now I am a ELCA youth minister and I am very very happy with the Evangelical Lutherans," says Pastor Christopher. When speaking of his future, Pastor Christopher said, ". . . I could actually, at one point be very responsible for what a whole generation of new Lutherans are going to be learning. . . so maybe the next 20 to 50 years of Lutherans are going to be basically being brought up in the kind of way we carve it up to be at this moment. And that's amazing." (listen here - 31 min. mark to 34 - note: foul language used)
Pastor Christopher, on his own website, tells us a story of that happened during one of his junior high mission trips. He says, "(t)here were also some references over the week to a born-again salvation experience and I had to take time to explain to my kids, who have only been exposed to Universalism, what the heck was going on. This also led to one of my favorite moments on the mission trip…
Part of the reason why we chose a missions trip where we give back to a community and work was because of our theology. Like I said before: 'We are not here to convert anybody; we are simply here to include them into our lives.' However, others from different denominations saw things differently, and especially after one certain event my kids asked me what was going on with this whole salvation, hell, born-again thing.
I took a moment to think my response over and then simply asked them two questions:
1. Who are God’s children?
2. When Christ died, who did He save?
To the first question my kids said 'everyone'. To the second question my kids said 'everyone.'
I smiled, and was so proud of them at that moment, and so proud that they had been brought up in a church that was so entirely different than the ones I was exposed to as a youth.
I then explained to them that not all churches or Christians feel the same way they do about this matter. My kids looked confused at this 'new theology' and said it was crazy. 'Do they not read the Bible?' 'Where do they even get this kind of stuff?' 'Wait a minute! Do they actually think our God is going to send His children to hell?!'
Like I said — one of the proudest moments of my life."
This teaching is wrong and it puts people's eternal destination at risk of going to hell. It also stops people from sharing the "good news" of Jesus with others, because in the universalist's mind, "everyone is going to heaven anyway." Not sharing the truth of Christ with people condemns them to eternity in a place no one would want to be.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 -
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the LORD Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our LORD Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the LORD and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America not only allows universal salvation to be taught, but they teach this heresy. The belief of universal salvation is being preached from the official ELCA website, ELCA publications, in many of its churches and by many ELCA pastors. (see here) The ELCA's own words and allowances implicate them. Pastor Neil Christopher is teaching a belief of which the ELCA is very comfortable.
Many of you know the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently added seven pastors who are gay, bisexual or transgender, to its clergy roster. This occurred at a Rite of Reception service.
Here are a few things you may not have heard concerning this.
1) During the "festival Eucharist celebrating the reception and reinstatement of pastors," (p 4) the congregation recited the “Our Mother who is within us” prayer taken from the Goddess Rosary (read more about the Goddess Rosary here). The prayer goes like this -
"Our Mother who is within us
we celebrate your many names.
Your wisdom come,
your will be done,
unfolding from the depths
Each day you give us all that we need.
You remind us of our limits
and we let go.
You support us in our power
and we act in courage.
For you are the dwelling place within us,
the empowerment around us,
and the celebration among us,
now and forever. Amen"
"The paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer, 'Our Mother
who is within us . . .' is a part of the Goddess Rosary
offered at University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley (ELCA)."
2) The sermon for this "celebration" was delivered by Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, who is a "Featured Speaker" at the publicized ELCA "Sharing the Gospel in a 2.0 World" event on August 11-14, 2010. (read here)
3) Much like item 1), they included a number of other prayers (listed below) to a god they call "Mother." (note that the Bible never calls God this name)
"O Sophia, Wisdom and Mother of us all, you are One with many names and images. May we see in all who are gathered here today your multiplicity of blessings. Today we honor your unlocking systems and practices that devalued and demeaned us for so many years and by putting your way of honoring people in its place. Most Holy One."
"Life-giving Mother, you make a home for us in the midst of our fear…
…that we may share your gifts with a hungry world:"
View and read the Rite of Reception service here.
One should also take note that there were a number of ELCA bishops involved in this Rite of Reception, as well as many ELCA pastors.
This kind of thing would not be happening if the ELCA did not support it.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania's presiding bishop, Rev. Alex G. Malasusa had some strong words for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He said that they do not support the ELCA's decisions on same-sex relationships and ordination, that the ELCA has strayed from Scriptures and that his church needs to not be reliant on ELCA money "so that they don't use their money and wealth to threaten us. . . we should leave them with their money and stick to the word of God." (Read more)
Presiding bishop Mark Hanson of the ELCA was quick to respond. The two presiding bishops will meet next month and Hanson said, "I will share with Bishop Malasusa the ELCA's strong commitment to the centrality of the Word of God in our faith and witness." (Read more)
I think Bishop Hanson is being honest here. But what is he really saying and what is he not saying? In this statement, ". . .ELCA's strong commitment to the centrality of the Word of God in our faith and witness," Hanson is not talking about the Bible. He is talking about Jesus. "Lutherans define the Word of God first as Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh." (ELCA church)
While the bishop Malasusa is saying the ELCA is not following scripture, bishop Hanson uses language that makes normal ELCA church members think he is saying that the ELCA has a strong commitment to scripture, when he is not.
The ELCA has never had a strong commitment to scripture. They make exceptions, deny, disregard and claim errors and untruths throughout the Bible. They believe they have a "knowledge" that supersedes what God says. It's called Gnosticism. This gnostic knowledge "in question concerns the secret mystery of life that arises from within the self. The God of gnosticism is the experiential God identical with what seems most authentic and real in each individual soul. The God of the Bible is exactly opposite from that and comes from the outside through the Word that he speaks. The God of the Gnostics and the God of the Bible are mortal enemies." (Read more)
I pray Rev. Malasusa doesn't fall for bishop Hanson's carefully chosen words.