What do you know . . . An ELCA leader doesn’t believe what the Bible says; this time its about Jesus’ birth. Surprise and Merry Christmas! (Do they celebrate Christmas in the ELCA any longer?)
Here is what was said by Rev. Dr. Don Carlson, Assistant to the Bishop of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, concerning the two accounts of Jesus’ birth in the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Luke:
“They are very different stories which are quite incompatible with one another. . .I certainly do not believe they are ‘historical’ in any modern understanding of historicity. . .I think that the stories are made up. (I’m retiring at the end of May anyway so don’t waste time with the heresy accusations.) They are myth” (read here).
Here is what Rev. Carlson had to say about Christ being born of a virgin:
“Focusing on the virgin birth issue, we need to remember that accounts of virgin or miraculous births were not uncommon antiquity. However, we also need to remember that such accounts were intended to express something about the character of the person born. They were a ‘character reference’ or ‘credentials.’ They were not intended to explain where the individual got 23 of his or her chromosomes. An understanding of fertilization and pregnancy in antiquity was, let’s say, ‘agrarian’ at best.” (read in the same article linked above)
Toward the end of his blog/article Rev. Carlson gives this advice to pastors: “tell the old mythic story in a way that. . . it is heard anew”. In order to prove his points in the blog, the Assistant to the Bishop recommends a discussion of the birth narratives by the controversial Marcus Borg. (find out more about him here)
Pastor Steve Shipman, director of LutheranCORE addresses those who teach like Rev. Carlson. Rev. Shipman wrote:“If a person chooses not to believe the Virgin Birth, they are free to do so. But they have no right then to claim to be a teacher or believer in Christianity. The faith once delivered to the saints is not a cafeteria from which we can pick and choose what pleases us.
If Jesus were born in the usual way, then what does it mean that He is 'the Word made flesh'? How can God be his Father in the way the Church has always proclaimed, if he is biologically the child of both Mary and Joseph (or even, as certain blasphemous legends suggest, of Mary and some other man)? Some early Christians made arguments for what is called ‘adoptionism,’ which taught that Jesus wasn’t born Son of God but was adopted into that role at his baptism by John. This was quickly rejected as heresy, because then the good news of the Incarnation simply can’t stand.
And it does matter for our salvation that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.’ It does matter that ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ If Jesus is just a good human being, even a perfect human being, He cannot save us but would only have saved Himself. But because He is God among us, taking our humanity into the life of the Holy Trinity, we have a marvelous hope for this life and the next.” (read here)
What I am reporting isn’t just one ELCA leader preaching heresy. No. Rev. Carlson’s article was posted on the website and blog of Michael Rinehart, bishop of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Bishop Rinehart is responsible for the article’s posting on his blog and he is culpable for what it says. ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, the ELCA’s Church Council and all high-ranking ELCA leaders are also responsible and culpable for what he (and others) say and/or for allowing theologically false-teaching to be preached. Allowing this heresy is the same as promoting it yourself. They are accomplices and are leading people away from God’s Truth and way from Christ.
People who don’t believe basic Christian truths and historic stories in the Bible are running the ELCA, teaching in the seminaries, preaching in the pulpits and “teaching” you about Christianity. Honestly, I believe Satan has infiltrated the ELCA and placed his people in leadership positions.
Here’s some more information on Assistant to the Bishop Rev. Dr. Don Carlson:
- Some of Rev. Carlson responsibilities as Assistant to the Bishop are “Call Process, Candidacy, Theological Education, Leadership” (see here).
- Carlson, a gay man, has been pushing homosexuality issues in the ELCA for years. (link provided upon request)
- As Exposing the ELCA has reported, Rev. Carlson has said a number of unBiblical things in the past (see here and here)
Marcus Borg is not a name many laypersons would know, but he is very popular with the leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Mr. Borg has spoken at many ELCA functions and his books are well read throughout the denomination. But who is Marcus Borg?
Borg’s own website says, “Marcus J. Borg is Canon Theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon. Internationally known in both academic and church circles as a biblical and Jesus scholar. . .” (see here) He is the author of nineteen books. Mr. Borg is also a member of the Jesus Seminar, which has been described as “. . . a self-promoting, pretentious attempt to popularize a historical Jesus, which is more culturally appealing. While claiming to represent the mainstream of critical New Testament scholarship, the Seminar might be likened to a sideshow rather than the center-ring attraction.” (see here)
Marcus Borg is wildly popular with ELCA leadership, (which I will show you a little later in this blog) but first you should know what this man teaches and believes. The best way to do that is by hearing it from the man himself. Mr. Borg says:
“I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product . . . As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God"
"Seminary also introduced me to the historical study of Jesus and Christian origins. I learned from my professors and the readings they assigned that Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world"
"I cannot believe that God could have stopped the Holocaust but chose not to, just as I cannot believe that God responds to some prayers for healing and protection and not others...It is difficult to believe in such a God"
"The pre-Easter Jesus is the historical Jesus...The post-Easter Jesus is what Jesus became after his death. More specifically, the post-Easter Jesus is the Jesus of Christian tradition and experience..."
"Was the pre-Easter Jesus divine? NO...Is the post-Easter Jesus divine? Yes--the post-Easter Jesus of Christian experience and fully developed Christian doctrine is divine"
"As such, myths can be both true and powerful, even though they are symbolic narratives and not straightforward historical reports. Though not literally true, they can be really true; though not factually true, they can be actually true. The stories of Jesus' birth are myths in this sense. Along with most mainline scholars, I do not think these stories report what happened. The virginal conception, the star, the wise men, the birth in Bethlehem where there was no room in the inn, and so forth are not facts of history. But I think these stories are powerfully true...The stories of Jesus' death and resurrection contain a mixture of historical memory and mythical narration."
Wow!! It’s hard to believe that a leader in mainline Christianity can hold these beliefs. But amazingly, the same things Borg says in these quotes are beliefs that are growing by leaps and bounds in the ELCA.
Pastor John Bent and Pastor Ralph Boyer have this to say about Borg and the Jesus Seminar, in which he is part of:
“Marcus Borg, the professor referred to in Bishop Hanson’s Report . . . was a primary member of the Jesus Seminar. The Jesus Seminar was the group of scholars who concluded that only 18% of the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels were probably spoken by him. Things like the miracles of Jesus and the physical reality of Christ’s resurrection are dismissed as the words of ancient people who misunderstood what happened.Scholars like Marcus Borg would say that they take the Bible seriously, but they do so in a very different way than Christians have for 2000 years, ways that discount many of the basic beliefs of Christianity and the life of Christ. Once you do that, questions of sexuality (and whatever issues come next) are no longer decided on the basis of Scripture, but on the basis of the powerful voices of the culture around us.” (read here)
This man, Marcus Borg, whose views are about as heretical as you can get, is a very respected scholar and highly sought after speaker by the ELCA leadership. Let me show you:
- Wartburg Theological Seminary (ELCA) hosts guest speaker Marcus Borg (see here)
- Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod hosted Tri-Synodical Theological Conference held January 24-26, 2011. Marcus Borg was keynote speaker. (see here)
- ELCA website promoting a book written by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan (see here)
- The ELCA publication “Seeds for the Parish” recommends a Marcus Borg book for use during the Lenten season. (see here)
- Lutheran Woman Today highlights Mr. Borg's teachings. (see here)
- South Central Synod of Wisconsin promotes event Marcus Borg will be part of (see here)
- Promoted by Rocky Mountain Synod Assembly, Marcus Borg Lectures at Messiah Community Church, ELCA October 29-31, 2010. (see here)
- Marcus Borg writes cover story for "The Lutheran," an ELCA magazine (see here)
- Nebraska Synod, ELCA recommends Marcus Borg book (see here)
- Marcus Borg speaks at The Virginia Synod, ELCA gathering (see here)
- Marcus Borg, a “Jesus Seminar scholar” to speak at 2010 Johnson Symposium on Faith and Society at ELCA church in Minneapolis. (see here)
- ELCA.org promoting Marcus Borg video curriculum First Light (see here) and running advertisement for the video series (see here)
- Mr. Borg speaks at ELCA’s Gettysburg College (see here)
- ELCA Pastor’s Bible study on Marcus Borg book (see here and here and here)
- Marcus Borg speaks at ELCA affiliated St. Olaf College (see here)
- Marcus Borg lecture is promoted on Oregon Synod e-news blog (see here)
Do I need to list more? I could. If you do a google search on “elca” “marcus borg” you will come up with many more events and connections. Here is one more example and one person’s related "letter to the editor" of the publication.
- The ELCA publication “The Lutheran” reports on a seminar hosted by St. John Lutheran Church, Sudbury, Mass, which is lead by Marcus Borg. (see here)
ELCA publication “Lutheran Partners” reviews Living the Questions 2.0 video series in which Marcus Borg is one of the contributors. (see here)
To which a letter to the editor responded:“Geoffrey Scott's recent review and implied recommendation of the Living the Questions 2.0 education materials greatly alarms me. Once more I am left wondering if the ordained and lay leaders of the ELCA truly have any real partnership in the gospel together.
The Living the Questions curriculum is linked to the so-called "progressive Christianity" movement. The eight primary tenets of this ecumenical, loose affiliation of mainline Protestant congregations include the belief that all faiths lead to God apart from the unique atoning work of Jesus Christ in his life, death, and resurrection; that the unbaptized should be admitted to communion; and that the historic, biblical doctrines of Christianity are, in large part, no longer helpful or necessary. This "progressive Christianity" therefore stands in direct opposition to apostolic Christianity.
Moreover, among the authors of the Living the Questions materials are John Spong, Marcus Borg, and John Crossan. All three deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus and denounce many of the basic, creedal core beliefs of Lutheran Christianity and historic Christianity in general. Living the Questions presents a different gospel than the gospel of Jesus Christ, proclaimed in Scripture.
What then are we to make of the endorsement Lutheran Partners gives to this curriculum — indeed, to this heretical teaching? It leaves me to surmise that the key leaders of the ELCA would have local pastors and educators incorporate these materials into their teaching and education ministries. I can think of hardly anything worse.
As the Lord says to us, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15). Living the Questions is another example of that wolf. And such a wolf, if left unchecked, will eventually consume the whole flock.” (see here)
Why is Marcus Borg allowed to speak and teach at so many ELCA functions? Why are his books being used and promoted in the ELCA? It is because Marcus Borg’s teachings resonate with the leadership of the ELCA.