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 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.
The ELCA makes great effort and invests a lot of money to partner with non-Christian religious entities. Not for the purpose of evangelism or helping others come to salvation only found in Jesus, mind you, but for the purpose of “understanding” each other. (See here, here, here and here)
If you do a search on elca.org for “understanding muslims” you find a plethora of information (over 580 results). Yet there seems to be another effort in the ELCA to demonize fellow Lutherans and Christians. (See here, here, here and here)
A recent newspaper article about a dual-affiliated church (ELCA and LCMC) provides more evidence of this. Bishop Michael Burk of the Southeast Iowa ELCA synod made many non-charitable comments about the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) association:
“Burk said the dual affiliation with the LCMC is ‘becoming a member of two groups that are opposed to each other.’”
Bishop Burk said that the dual-affiliated church’s council, “decided to join that body knowing that’s prohibited in the ELCA” and that dual-rostering isn’t allowed by the ELCA (a statement Burk later contradicts) “especially if the church body you want to join is schismatic body,” (referring to the LCMC).
“(The LCMC) wasn’t just upset with the ELCA and deciding to leave, but they were doing everything they could to disenfranchise the ELCA, to undermine everything that the denomination believes,” Bishop Burk said. (read here)
You should know, the LCMC is fine with churches being affiliated with the ELCA and themselves, but the ELCA is not fine with ELCA churches being affiliated with the LCMC.
What kind of denomination wants to partner with religious groups which boldly worship false gods yet, that same denomination, wants nothing to do with certain Christ-following persons and fellow Lutherans?
At Luther College (ELCA) there is a teaching professor who claims Jesus was a Muslim. The professor is Robert F. Shedinger, an Associate Professor of Religion and Department Head at Luther. (see here) Professor Shedinger wrote a book to promote his view titled, Was Jesus A Muslim? in which he writes:
- “‘Was Jesus a Muslim?’ I will answer with a very qualified yes.” (page 10)
- “. . . I firmly believe that the life and work of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels resonate more with particular interpretations of the nature and essence of the Islamic tradition than with common Western articulations of the nature and essence of Christianity. It is in this hermeneutical sense that I conclude that Jesus was really a Muslim.” (page 12)
- “. . .the world is in dire need of a movement of Christian-Muslim solidarity . . . Positioning Jesus as a point of commonality between Muslims and Christians may be a first step toward this goal, and this book seeks to accomplish just that.” (page 12)
- “It is necessary to conclude that the historical figure of Jesus outlined here accords better with a Muslim than with a Western Christian worldview. Jesus really was a Muslim in the sense that his mission stands outside the discourse of sui generis religion.” (page 136)
In a video interview Professor Shedinger tells how he came to this view saying a student challenged the way he taught Islam and it led him “. . .over eight years to completely rethink the whole way that I think about Islam and the whole concept of religion which culminated in me asking the question 'Was Jesus a Muslim?' and answering it 'Yes,' even as a Christian I still have to say 'yes' to that.” (Laughter by Professor Shedinger) Be sure to watch this video because the professor’s answer and laughter speaks volumes.
- “And the world has the most to gain when Christians and Muslims work together and demand that global political, economic, and social institutions be reconfigured to promote justice and the dignity of every human being. Jesus may really have been a Muslim. Let the dialogue begin.” (page 170)
Professor Shedinger went on to say that the purpose of his book “is a call for Muslims and Christians to learn how to work together for social justice.”
Later he says, “And I think that is who Jesus was in the first century so I conclude Jesus is more like a Muslim than the Christianized Jesus that is more a spiritual savior and not as interested in issues of social justice.”During a different interview with Professor Shedinger regarding his book he said, “Muslim readers really like the book and don’t find the idea of Jesus being a Muslim at all controversial . . . What does surprise them is seeing such an idea coming from someone who identifies as a Christian. But overall Muslim readers have embraced the book . . .The Christian reaction has been mostly silence . . .” (read here)
So while the Luther College website boasts that professor Shedinger, "has been a regular speaker in mosques and Islamic Centers around the country," (see here) Bible-believing Christians everywhere should let the leadership in the ELCA and Luther College know that they disapprove of anti-Christian teaching happening in their church supported and congregational supported denomination’s schools. Let us not be found silent.
Luther College is an ELCA affiliated school. (see here)
Shedinger, Robert (2009). Was Jesus A Muslim? Questioning categories in the study of religion. Fortress Press, Minneapolis. ISBN 978-0-8006-6325-4
As the saying goes, “Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Who are the bedfellows of the ELCA? In a past blog, Exposing the ELCA revealed the close ties and similar ideologies the ELCA has with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. (read here)
Now we find that the ELCA is also very close with an organization called the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Here is some information about the ISNA:
- “(T)he United States Department of Justice named ISNA . . . as an unindicted co-conspirator and one of a number of ‘entities who are and/or were members of the US Muslim Brotherhood.’” (see here)
- “According to columnist Rod Dreher's interpretation of court documents, ‘ISNA is an integral part of the [Muslim] Brotherhood's efforts to wage jihad against America through non-violent means.’" (see here)
- “(T)he FBI has uncovered internal Muslim Brotherhood documents naming ISNA as ‘one of our organizations and the organizations of our friends.’” (see here)
(If you would like more details pertaining to the Muslim Brotherhood, what they are and what they stand for, check out this article)
- “ISNA was created by members of the Muslim Brotherhood – a radical Egyptian movement that seeks to spread Shariah law globally – in the U.S. Many of those founders remain in leadership positions with ISNA. (read here)
So with that information about the ISNA and the Muslim Brotherhood, let's look at the relationship the ELCA has with the ISNA:
- The national director for the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) spoke to the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. (see here) The ELCA website quotes the ISNA speaker as saying, “(w)e have worked with your organization and leaders [and] we have seen this tireless leader of yours, who’s been here for hours and hours. But I’ve seen him in the corridors of power speaking the truth about issues … whether it is about peace in the Middle East or anti-Muslim bigotry in America. . . we are working together in shaping the new millennium.” (read here) The ISNA representative received three standing ovations from the ELCA leadership at the Assembly.
- ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson said the following at the ELCA 2011 Churchwide Assembly, “I’m very pleased to now welcome an interfaith partner to this assembly. Dr. Sayyid Sayeed, is the National Director for the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances of the Islamic Society of North America. He has become a close friend. We share a deep commitment to our growing relationship and dialog, but not just in dialog, in our working together to build a more peaceful and just world both in this country and in places of tension throughout the world.” (see here - plenary six)
- Presiding Bishop Hanson turned to the ISNA representative and said, “ . . . I hope you hear both our warm response to your being here, but beneath that, the commitment to walk together.” (see here - plenary six)
- The ELCA official website has the ISNA listed under a section called “Our Partners.” (see here)
- The Islamic Society of North America lists and links to the ELCA on a page entitled “Our Partners.” (you can go to their website and find the link)
- ELCA website links to the ISNA’s website. (see here)
- The Rev. Donald J. McCoid, Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, represented the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, at an emergency interfaith summit called by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) (see here)
The ELCA leadership is working with and partnering with the ISNA, an organization that is said to have very close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. If this doesn't make ELCA members question what kind of denomination they are members of, I don't know what will.
- Rev. Rafael Malpica-Padilla, Executive Director of the ELCA's Division for Global Mission and ISNA representative hold a press conference with other faith leaders. (see here)
New video by Exposing the ELCA
Please share this with those you know.
I just came across a recap of the happenings at the now famous ELCA and worshippers of Isis conference, officially called “The 5th Annual Faith and Feminism – Womanist – Mujerista Conference,” that was held at the ELCA’s Ebenezer Lutheran church (herchurch) in San Francisco. (See the previous blog here). The synopsis of the conference provided some extremely important information. Dr. Mary Streufert, the ELCA Director for Justice for Women, from the Office of the Presiding Bishop (see here) was a keynote speaker at the conference. During her teaching titled, "Jesus Christ Beyond the Divide: A Christian Feminist Proposal," she presented images of a female Jesus to the gathering. This comes from the account of Dr. Aldredge-Clanton, which was posted on Ebenezer Lutheran's website. I think it is reasonable to assume they are giving a truthful account of what happened. Here is what Dr. Aldredge-Clanton said exactly, “. . . I experience Dr. Mary Streufert’s erudite and engaging presentation that includes female images of Jesus Christ, providing a bridge for feminism to move into traditional Christianity.” (read here)
On an older Ebenezer Lutheran church webpage, which detailed the then upcoming conference, a preview is given of Dr. Streufert’s talk. At the end of the preview it says, “(y)ou can expect some interesting images!” (see here)
I find it very troubling that a leader in my denomination, straight from the headquarters of the ELCA and Office of the ELCA's Presiding Bishop, is mocking our Lord and Savior like this. How fitting that Dr. Streufert does this at a conference at which many of the teachers and speakers are priestesses of Isis or of other goddesses. Maybe even more troubling than Dr. Streufert’s blaspheme is the fact that the ELCA is allowing this.
I have to believe that showing images of a female Jesus is nothing new to Dr. Streufert. In Dr. Streufert’s book, Transformative Lutheran Theologies: Feminist, Womanist, and Mujerista Perspectives, she writes a chapter titled, “The Person of Christ from a Feminist Perspective: Human and Divine, Male and Female.” (see here)
Propagating a female Jesus is blasphemous. Changing Christ into a god of your own fashion and design, in opposition to the testimony of Scripture, is in reality, creating a new god. This female Jesus, which feminists in the denomination love to call “Sophia,” is not The Son, Jesus. It is a false god. The ELCA is promoting and involving itself in idolatry.
An ELCA e-Advocacy Network email was sent out recently calling on us to “Ask President Obama to Act on Climate Change.”
Here is an excerpt of this email:
“What are we asking him to do?. . .
- Ensure adequate assistance to poor countries that are already suffering most from the impacts of climate change.
- Guarantee climate justice for all: a transparent, participatory agreement that ensures the voices and interests of all are addressed.”
“Join other people of faith in asking President Obama and other leaders to commit to an agreement that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and protect the most vulnerable from the impacts of a changing climate that we can no longer avoid.”
Does the ELCA really want to encourage the sleeping with someone to whom you are not married? ELCA publication, The Lutheran, under “Staff Blogs” has a story by the Web Manager / Associate Art Director, in which she says “Last month, my fiancé James and I went on vacation in Isle Royale National Park. One night we camped at South Lake Desor… I awoke at midnight to the sound of branches breaking. I woke James and said: ‘I think there's something outside our tent.’ I often wake James when I hear noises, which usually turn out to be birds or squirrels. ‘You're imagining things again,’ he said and went back to sleep.”
“Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul. The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.” (see here) Seems that Yoga is popular with staff at ELCA headquarters in Chicago. “Two days a week, churchwide employees carry yoga mats for Lunchtime Yoga at the Lutheran Center.” (see here)
Alcohol is being sold by an ELCA church. Pastor Gretchen Mertes "works as one of the bartenders."“When you belly up to the bar. . . You wont find a Bible.” “Oh heaven’s, no!” (see here)
Don’t miss out on their “wine specials.” (watch here)Luther's Table, the bar/cafe, is a mission start of the ELCA (see here)Pastor Mertes "salary is funded for the most part by grants from the ELCA and NW WA Synod." (see here)
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson continually calls on Israel to divide its land. He wants Israel to give the “Palestinians” large amounts of Israeli territory and half of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. One of the reasons Bishop Hanson gives for constantly belaboring this position is the ELCA’s “commitment to our companions in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land." (read here) Bishop Hanson must feel that the Lutherans living in the “Holy Land” would be better off if that land was controlled by followers of Islam rather than a democratic Jewish society.
Now I’m sure Bishop Hanson cares about Lutheran Christians in Israel and Jordan, but Hanson’s demands are not in the best interest of any Christian living in Israel. Does the bishop not know that Israel is the only Middle Eastern country where the Christian population has grown in the last half-century? Doesn’t he know how Christians are treated under Muslim law? If he knew this, why would he want these Lutheran Christians to leave the safety of Israel and become part of a new “Palestinian” country which will be controlled by followers of Islam?
When you look at the ideology and theology of the Arabs, who are in leadership of Gaza and the West Bank, it is inconceivable to think that the leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America would push this plan, a plan that would put Christians in grave danger. But that is what he is doing.
Look at what has happened to the Christian population living in the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled city of Bethlehem. “According to a report by the Jerusalem Institute for Global Jewish Affairs, the Muslim Fatah-controlled PA is encouraging a ‘sharp demographic shift’ in Bethlehem, where the Christian population went from a 60 percent majority in 1990 to a 40 percent minority in 2000, to about 15 percent of the city's total population in 2008. (read here - the article also talks about the persecution Christians have experienced in this city)
Presiding Bishop Hanson certainly knows it is dangerous for Christians to live in Islamic countries, and he knows that Christians are leaving these Middle Eastern countries in droves. So why in the world would this be the position of Bishop Hanson? What is the real reason?
On November 8, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's presiding bishop went to The White House to discuss his opinions on the state of Israel.
Bishop Hanson and his likeminded faith leader friends blamed Israel's construction of homes, many of them in the capital of Israel, for the lack of discussions on peace between the Jewish state and "Palestinians."
A statement released by the faith leaders said, "‘The position of the Palestinian Christian community is precarious . . . There are constant problems of obtaining visas for clergy who must travel outside Jerusalem and the West Bank. Restriction on movement between Bethlehem and Jerusalem is a problem that undermines Christian life. Church leaders are humiliated at check points.’"(read here)
Issues at check points? Seriously? This is a reason they want Christians to reside in a newly created, Muslim-dominated “Palestine”?
There would be no need for check points if people in the Middle East would treat the Jewish people as children of God and if the "Palestinians" would stop blowing themselves up next to innocent Jewish men, women and children. Oh, but the poor church leaders don’t like security check points. It all makes sense to me now, Bishop Hanson.
I wish Bishop Hanson took the Great Commission seriously and put half the effort into leading people to Christ as he does trying to lead people against the Jewish nation.
There has been a lot of talk and publicity on the idolatry and goddess worship happening at the ELCA church, Ebenezer Lutheran, in San Francisco (otherwise known as “herchurch”). If you haven't seen it yet please check out what is happening at their November conference (see here and here). Of great importance is the fact that the ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop is being represented at the conference and that person will be speaking. Since this is an important topic, I thought I would share with you some more information about this conference and the ELCA pastor responsible for it.
First, I came across a blog discussing “herchurch’s” 2009 conference. This comes from the perspective of one of the conference speakers. She says:
“I was very, very surprised at the feeling of singing words of love and praise to the Sacred Feminine in hymn tunes which were already familiar.”
“A rich and wonderful conference such as this with the title ‘Marys, Madonnas, Goddess-with-Us’ wouldn’t be complete without small group workshops for integrating sacred feminine spirituality through creative artwork or conversations with presenters, or more meditation and chanting. . . I kept seeing people walking around with Goddess dolls, wands really, that were magical and potent and strong in color and feeling. It turned out they were from a workshop given by the artist Linda Roberts. They were personal creations that each creator seemed to be in love with, and I’m sure they will grace many home altars.”
“Once we understand that Mary Magdalene is the voice of the Goddess Herself in Christianity, it becomes very interesting to learn her symbolic language so we can hear her better in our own dreamworld and artwork.”
“It was a very full weekend; full of love, full of respect for Rev. Stacy Boorn and her courage within Christianity, and full of secret hopes for the religious changes we need to support ‘the New Creation’ we all want.” (see here)
Now let’s hear from the woman who is responsible for this yearly conference, “herchurch” pastor Stacy Boorn (ELCA).
Toward the beginning of the interview Pastor Boorn talked about the people’s reaction to her church’s name, “herchurch”:
“. . . when we posted that on the front of the church, people would drive by and then identified the congregation as “herchurch,” knowing what we meant the deity was “her.”
The interviewer, soon after, asked about referring to goddess as “holy other.” Rev. Boorn, in her response said, “ . . . but ‘holy other’ also gives a sense of tie, I think with many religions’ traditions.”
Here are some more statements made by Rev. Boorn from that interview:
“. . . but way beyond the writing of those scriptures (the Bible) the wonderful work that we’ve tied into was Maria (inadible) Buddhist and others who showed us that for tens, and tens, and tens of thousands of years that there have been women leading societies, and goddess the head of that, and they produced peace communities . . .”
“For example, you know we have a Wednesday evening goddess rosary which is a ritual that we’ve developed . . . in a very similar way to a ritual of the Anglican or the Roman Catholic prayer beads but with a more intentional liberation connectiveness to the holy mother, goddess of us all. And so for some, people will pray prayers envisioning an actual in the womb or the Earth as the body of the 'holy other' or the cosmos as the mother so it is wide open and I think that is the important part of it. On this journey with ‘she who is,’ there are many voices in the feminist religious world who have various takes, and I think it is important in what we do in this ritual community is to listen and use them all for our richness.”
“. . . we have in our communion at the goddess rosary, some persons who, when we talk about ‘mother, maiden, crone,” as a symbol or metaphor for the 'holy other,' there will be some in our community who will actually name three goddess, Isis and others . . .”
“The day is coming, I hope, when the patriarchal religious traditions are totally dismantled and something new comes forth and I think the feminists are going to make that happen.”
“Hopefully our congregation will not be just one but one of many. And when we can be a model for others we are grateful to do that.” (listen here)
This goddess worshipping church, supported by the ELCA leadership wants to be a model for other churches. Their pastor wants to see feminist goddess worship dismantle and replace historical Christianity worldwide.
We cannot say “well this is just one church.” Not when this church has been supported and protected for years by the ELCA leadership. Not when the ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop is represented at their goddess worshipping conference. The ELCA leadership is moving the denomination in this same direction. I know I do not want to be part of a denomination that encourages the worship of demons and pagan gods.