The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s largest seminary, Luther Seminary in Minnesota, sent shockwaves through the denomination with the recent admittance that they are facing extreme financial difficulties. The president of Luther Seminary abruptly stepped down from his position as a result. Luther Seminary published a report stating, “While we continue to function at a high level, we are facing a difficult combination of challenges, not unlike those faced by many other institutions of higher education. These challenges include deferred maintenance charges related to aging buildings, the costs of delivering a wide variety of educational programs and a nationwide drop in the number of students attending seminaries . . . this transition comes at a time when the financial performance of the seminary has lagged expectations.” (read here)
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Luther Seminary, “announces search for new president after losing nearly $4 million last school year.” The report said, “The president of Luther Seminary in St. Paul has resigned amid rising maintenance costs and declining enrollment . . . Enrollment is down from 822 nearly five years ago to 764 students this year.” Board chairman Jim Lindus said, "We had a lower investment performance than we were expecting, and education costs in general are going up. And we're trying to figure out how do we adjust to that in a church that ... has become smaller." (read here) The article also points out that “Other ELCA seminaries nationwide are also dealing with ‘very challenging times.’"
An ELCA pastor, blogging about the news concerning Luther Seminary said, “the ELCA and many of her associated enterprises - Luther Seminary among them - has taken its eye off the ball. We are told that we are to be missional - but missional about what? A vast cohort of students, faculty, and staff (and therefore pastors, bishops, and synod staff) get more worked up about personal pronouns for God than personal relationships with God. We are taught that to ‘want people to come to church on Sunday morning’ indicates a lack of understanding that God works outside the church. We are taught that the Church, and Word & Sacrament, are nice, you know, but so are justice and advocacy. I spent more time in seminary learning about ‘family systems’ than I did sacramental theology. No, for realz. I was assigned more papers about why we shouldn't evangelize, than about how and why we should.”
This ELCA pastor goes on to say, “certain individuals and departments spend ridiculous amounts of seminary funds on high-end coffee and cookies every day of the week. There are flat-screen TVs in every corner of Northwestern and the OCC. NW and OCC have both recently undergone major asthetic remodels, while the dorms and apartments battle bedbugs and mold year-round.” (read here)
The ELCA is led by self-serving, Bible-denying, and apparently wasteful leaders. Because of their wandering away from the heart of the Gospel, to make disciples, the denomination itself is withering.
The Lutheran, which bills itself as “The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America” has an article in the September 2012 issue on the topic of social justice. The article is posted in their “Deeper Understandings” column and is written by ELCA seminary professors James Childs and Katie Day. From this magazine, which continually pushes the ELCA's liberal agenda to it's subscribers, we read about “social justice” and find this statement by Professor Day, “In order to fairly distribute resources, we have to nurture and protect just relations in society. Where there is injustice, community has been broken — many ‘have nots’ means there are too many ‘haves’ with too much.” (read here)
Opining for the redistribution of wealth is not a surprise, coming from our current president of the United States, but here we find the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America professor and magazine calling for it.
In the comments section after this article is an interesting response, “‘Many have nots means there are too many haves with too much.’ That statement by Professor Day reveals her false notion that the wealth of the world is a zero sum game. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and Sam Walton aren't billionaires at some one else's expense. They have created wealth for all of us out of thin air. The world is not a better place today because we have smarter theologians (obviously) but because we have PRACTCAL scientist and inventors and business people. Creation of jobs is vastly more beneficial for society then is using that same dollar, laundered through the government to just a few cents, to perhaps help some one in need. At our church we are starting to stress and pray for our employers not only our poor.
Do you, Dr. Day, think that it would be better for you to borrow $50,000 to redo your kitchen or to give that money to the government for them to spend? Where would more jobs be created? I would think that a professors compensation package ( I suspect it is north of $150,000) qualifies them as an Obama millionaire or billionaire.
I am generous with my giving and I resent those who twist the Bible and theology to read that it is a collective obligation of some to take money through the government from others to give to somebody else. Not only that, but not all of us are Christians but we are Americans and we have a constitutional right to our property. It is our Christian obligation and privilege to be generous.” (read here)
It has been the opinion of many concerned Lutherans that social justice is the main focus and mission of the ELCA, and nowhere to be found in the denomination is the desire to follow Christ’s directive to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” - Matthew 28:19,20. When any human commission, in this case, social justice, replaces the Great Commission, it is time to leave the denomination.
Did you know that the leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is not fond of the border fence between the United States and Mexico, a fence which effectively diminishes the amount of illegal aliens entering our country? Here is what the ELCA leadership has said about it:
“Finally, the ELCA calls for a moratorium on and a comprehensive assessment of fence building along the United States-Mexican border.” Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - November 2009. (read here)
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson told 30,000 kids at the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering “. . . I didn’t want us (the ELCA) to be associated with people that are building up the walls that separate immigrants and migrants, for we are a church committed to working toward fair and just immigration reform.” (see here, Sunday video)
In 1998, the ELCA said, “. . . we have serious doubts about the rightness and effectiveness of current policy to erect imposing barriers between the United States and Mexico.” (read here)
The ELCA’s magazine, The Lutheran reported in 2005, that “Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service opposed the REAL ID Act, a bill to regulate state security standards for driver’s licenses, prevent terrorists from abusing asylum laws and to ensure a security fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.” (read here)
The Lutheran magazine wrote in 2007, “Extending this U.S.-Mexican border wall the full 2,000 miles will require an estimated $8 billion. Kim Erno, an ELCA pastor and program director of the Lutheran Center in Mexico City, asked participants of an ELCA conference on walls whether that money would be better invested in the lives of the poor.” (read here)
If you are an ELCA member who does not support the U.S-Mexico border fence, then this should make you happy. But if you do support the border fence, I believe it is your right to know that your denomination is against it and working to prevent its completion.
This week ELCA Bishop of the North Texas-Northern Louisiana Mission Area, Kevin S. Kanouse wrote a blog (see here) calling those who support Chick-fil-A bullies and he blamed “preachers (?)” for people going to show their support for Chick-fil-A. This after the widespread temper tantrum and bullying from liberals and homosexuals against Chick-fil-A’s president for stating he believes in the Biblical view of one man, one woman marriage. Notice, too, that the ELCA bishop disparages the preachers by placing a question mark after referencing them, apparently implying that he questions whether they are true Christian preachers.
ELCA Bishop Kanouse mockingly wrote that the “faithful flocked to the chicken bastion of moral godliness to feast on chicken sandwiches. . .”
Later, Bishop Kanouse said, “In truth our country celebrated a national day of bullying last week.”
And Bishop Kanouse, proving that he doesn’t understand or respect Scripture much at all, made this statement, “. . .the bullied. That's another word, like homosexuality, that Jesus did not utter as recorded in the New Testament. . .” (read here)
One of the main points Bishop Kanouse tried to make was his belief that Jesus “would not have been inside Chick-fil-A. No, he was not about sit-ins and causes.” I say, that statement and thought is not an honest and true portrayal of the Biblical, historic Jesus.
Bishop Kanouse is part of a denomination which calls homosexuality “good.” Because of that, and the ELCA’s twisted view of the Bible, many in the ELCA do not like when Christians hold to Biblical Truth (and apparently when they stand up for one another when the world tries to bully Christians for their beliefs). You are wrong, Bishop Kanouse, if you think Jesus would not have supported the words of the president of Chick-Fil-A and the thousands of people who showed up to support the company who was being bullied for their Christian values. Jesus stood up for what was right. He chased the moneychangers out of the temple, he sternly warned others who were leading people away from God’s truth, and among many other instances, he supported the actions of Mary when her sister Martha complained about her.
Bob Russell said this in a blog he wrote, “Did Jesus condemn John the Baptist for speaking out against a politician? No. Jesus said “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11) (read here)
After reading drivel like Bishop Kanouse’s blog and hundreds of ELCA articles like it, it is easy to see that the ELCA is a extremely liberal church that does not understand and in many ways despises Bible-believing, Christ-following Christians. Unfortunately many ELCA leaders also have a one-dimensional view of Jesus which changes Christ into a social justice leader and not much of a Savior.
The 2012 ELCA Nation Youth Gathering recently posted that Shane Claiborne would be one of their main conference speakers. (see here) He is a controversial speaker, same as the other 2012 Youth Gathering speakers Exposing the ELCA has highlighted. (Nadia Bolz-Weber here and Rev. Andrena Ingram here)
Shane Claiborne is loved by the liberal, progressive, emergent church. So it is no surprise that the liberal progressives running the ELCA have chosen him to speak to the youth of our denomination.
So let’s dive in, here is what we know about Shane Claiborne:
Nine churches objected to Claiborne speaking at the US Mennonite Brethren Youth Conference. An article published in the Christian Leader says Claiborne has “universalist tendencies” and that he “distorts the gospel.” (read here)
Claiborne had this to say when another of his speaking engagements at Cedarville University was cancelled. -
“A university must believe its students are able to 'test the spirits' and work out their salvation ‘with fear and trembling.’ We are not talking about junior high kids, but young adults who are capable of discerning truth from fiction, and who need to be trusted with and exposed to diverse perspectives.” (read here)
Based on Mr. Claiborne’s quote, it should be pointed out that the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering is recommended for kids ages 14 to 18.
This is what Shane Claiborne had to say about revered Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler:
“I think even Bonhoeffer was wrong. There’s an interview with Hitler’s secretary in a movie called Blind Spot, and she tells about when the assassination attempt failed, and Hitler was very interestingly protected from the bomb, he was convinced at that point, more than ever before, that God was protecting him and his mission, and he went forward with renewed vigilence like ever before. So I would say on the day that Bonhoeffer did that, the cross lost, and that violence just perpetuated.” (see here)
Mark Tooley in the Weekly Standard writes:
“Shane Claiborne is a Christian counter-culturalist and pacifist who went to Baghdad in 2003 to express solidarity with Iraq when the first U.S. and Allied missiles landed.”
“CBS News asked him whether he was a traitor:
If this bloody, counterfeit liberation is American .??.??. I am proud to be un-American. If depleted uranium is American .??.??. I am proud to be un-American. If the imposed 'peace' of Pax Americana is American, I am proud to be un-American.”
“In Jesus for President Claiborne wants Christians to disavow their country and all civil governance in favor of exclusive allegiance to a nonviolent Jesus whose chief mission is resisting ‘empire.’ But Claiborne's interpretation of Jesus, his few selective quotations from early church fathers notwithstanding, is largely divorced from the universal church's understanding of the Savior. Instead, Claiborne insists on a narrowly reinterpreted Jesus as distilled by Yoder and several others in 20th-century America for whom Jesus is more social critic than Resurrected Redeemer.” (see here)
Barton Gingerich of the Institute on Religion & Democracy writes:
“Claiborne often touts radical political themes. His 2008 book Jesus for President likened American to the Third Reich and the biblical Whore of Babylon . . . Claiborne has also praised Occupy Wall Street and recently called for an ‘excorcism’ of Wall Street.” (see here)
Claiborne told gatherers at a retreat for Indiana United Methodist clergy, “The crisis in our faith today is not right believing, but right living.”
“Claiborne also demanded liberalized immigration policies for the U.S. through a story about Christians sharing communion over a southern border fence.” (see here)
Another article tells us how “Shane Claiborne has publicly announced his withholding 30 percent of his taxes to protest all U.S. defense spending.” (see here)
The same website reveals this statement by Mr. Claiborne, “If someone’s hungry, while someone else has food, then they’re a thief if they don’t share it.” (see here)
Claiborne also said this, “To be pro-life, when you live in a neighborhood like mine… means we have to figure out what to do when a 14 year old girl gets pregnant. . .That then becomes everybody’s responsibility. So if we’re really going to be pro-life, then we’d better have some foster kids and we’d better have some teenage mothers living in our homes to show for it.” (see here)
Claiborne was a speaker at the very controversial 2012 “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference. Mark Tooley, President of The Institute on Religion & Democracy wrote that “Christ at the Checkpoint is primarily a public relations scheme to dissuade American evangelicals from pro-Israel views.” (see here)
“Shane Claiborne. . . warned on July 4 that ‘patriotism can be a dangerous thing if it leads to amnesia about the dark patches of our nation’s history.’ He proposed that instead of Independence Day, Americans celebrate ‘Interdependence Day,’ to recognize that ‘we are part of a global neighborhood.’" (see here)
In an Interview with Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne said, "One of the barriers [between religions] seems to be the assumption that we have the truth and folks who experience things differently will all go to Hell. How do we unashamedly maintain a healthy desire for others to experience the love of God as we have experienced it without condemning others who experience God differently?" (see here)
Here is another quote by Claiborne, “When we truly discover how to love our neighbor as our self, Capitalism will not be possible and Marxism will not be necessary.” (see here)
Author Dave Hunt sums up Shane Claiborne’s teaching this way, “Some of Claiborne's agenda toward the poor is commendable and may be well suited to social welfare programs such as the Peace Corps or UNESCO, but it does a terrible disservice to the biblical gospel. ‘Biblical’ needs to be underscored here because the gospel has specific content that can only be derived from the Bible. The gospel is what the Bible is all about. It is God's way of salvation. . .Since the gospel has an eternal objective (e.g., it is a person's only means for spending eternity with God), there is nothing of temporal significance that should be given priority over it.
The history of the social works-oriented gospel, of which so-called progressive Christians Wallis and Claiborne are only two of the latest representatives, is a testimony to what may have begun with sincere intentions or even ‘in the Spirit’ (Galatians 3:1-3) but has degenerated into various forms of works-salvation, which constitutes ‘another gospel’ (Galatians 1:6-9) - a gospel, of course, that can save no one. When ‘good works’ take priority over the clear proclamation of the gospel by preaching and teaching, they become a leaven that ultimately subverts the gospel. Good works can only result from salvation - they are the cart that follows the horse. When the cart leads, the horse is in serious trouble.” (see here)
This is what our youth will be subject to at the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering. It seems to me that the ELCA leadership is intent on making the youth of the ELCA into carbon copies of their liberal, progressive, Bible-doubting selves.
For the second time in the last two weeks an ELCA bishop is taking a public stand, advocating for homosexual marriage in his state. The Rev. E. Roy Riley Jr., bishop of the New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America co-authored a column that was published by NJ.com, a New Jersey online newspaper.
In the column the ELCA bishop and two other faith leaders say, “(a)s representatives of faith traditions that struggled for decades with this issue, we know that attitudes about homosexuality do not change easily. Still, it pains us that so many opponents of marriage equality invoke a handful of scriptural texts — open to a variety of interpretations — to deny their fellow citizens equal treatment under civil law.”
The authors then list reasons why, they believe, the Biblical verses warning against homosexual relations should not be followed.
Then they state, “(t)hanks to the wisdom of the First Amendment, differing theological notions about the nature of marriage will continue to flourish across our diverse religious landscape. But a state has neither the right nor the competence to promote one of those theological understandings in opposition to others — particularly when doing so deprives some citizens of the rights enjoyed by others. . .It is our prayer that the state’s legislators will find the wisdom to act with . . . impartiality and justice.” (see here)
This is your ELCA leadership. Denying the clear reading and teaching of scripture (God’s word). Encouraging people to immerse themselves in sin. Trying to persuade state legislators and the public to support what they want, gay marriage.
(blog from 2-2-2012 reporting on ELCA Bishop, Chris Boerger, of the Northwest Washington Synod public statement in support of homosexual marriage)
One would think, with the financial struggles the ELCA is having, that they would at least try to be wise with the gifts and tithes to God that they receive from people. However, much like the United States government, they love to spend on their agenda.
For example, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America wants you to come to “Ecumenical Advocacy Days.” (March 23-26) At this gathering you "will explore economy, livelihoods, and our national priorities . . . hear from theologians and policy experts, equip ourselves to speak confidently on key policy issues, and take our message to our elected officials in Congress." But wait, is "(m)oney tight? We understand, and to help more people attend EAD, the ELCA is providing scholarships." (read here)
"ELCA scholarships for Ecumenical Advocacy Days cover the conference registration fee, hotel costs, and travel expenses to Washington D.C. (either flight or mileage reimbursement)." (read here)
Isn’t that nice? Your tithe is going to train people to be lobbyists and political activists, and you can be sure the training will be centered around the ELCA’s political priorities.
That’s not all. You know the money you sent to ELCA World Hunger? It is being used to send lobbyists to the Iowa State capital. Called "Lutheran Day on the Hill," "passionate advocates" will be going to lobby state legislators. "This opportunity is offered at no cost to attendees." Lunch is provided and you also get a t-shirt.
"This event has been made possible through a grant from ELCA World Hunger. We are proud to be a partner in Lutheran Day on the Hill with the three Iowa Synods of the ELCA." (read here)
And lastly, another example of how our denomination is quick to spend God’s money on their ideology. "Lutheran School of Theology Chicago Offers LC/NA Course Free For CEU's." This ELCA seminary is offering free Continuing Education Units for a course called "Transformation + Action = Oxygen." The course "is designed to empower, equip, inspire, and activate participants to have life-giving, well-timed, appropriately-framed conversations with their congregants regarding the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities." (read here)
This course comes from Lutherans Concerned / North America, whose purpose is "to unite gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their supporters within the Lutheran churches." (read here)
And it’s free at this ELCA seminary!
Two ELCA synods, the Western Iowa Synod and the Southeastern Iowa Synod, have decided to co-sponsor, what has all the indications of, an anti-Israeli conference October 14-15, 2011. (see here)Interestingly enough, the conference that the ELCA “Christian” synods are co-sponsoring includes a Muslim prayer service. (read here)
The conference is called “US Policy in Palestine-Israel: Engaging Faith Communities in Pursuit of a Just Peace.”
When I look at the program for the conference, maybe it is just me, but I don’t think this gathering is all that interested in making sure Israel gets a “just peace.”
Notice some of the topics they will cover:
- Challenging US Military Aid to Israel
- Divesting from Israeli Occupation
- Palestinian Christians & the Kairos document (read about the Kairos document here)
- Debunking Myths About Islam
- Muslim Contributions to Knowledge
- Peace by Piece
- Organizing Within the Churches
- Fair Trade – Canaan
- Ethical Travel to Palestine
- Inside Gaza Today
- Christian Zionism
- Organizing on Campuses
- Youth travels in Palestine
One of the scheduled workshops is titled “BDS - MN Break the Bonds.” (see here) I looked up “BDS” and found a description on the organization's website outlining who they are and what they are about. It said, “(t)he global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights was initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005, and is coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), established in 2007.” (see here)
A few other things I noted about this conference:
- Phyllis Bennis, a keynote speaker, was a founder and remains on the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation.
- The speakers seem to be Americans and Muslims who have the same political/Middle East view point.
- It is worth taking a look at who the other conference co-sponsors are. (see here)
- The conference information pages use bias language and Palestinian talking points which are decidedly intended to put the Palestinian cause and positions in the best possible light while at the same time vilifying the Israelis. (see here)
If these people want to hold a conference, they certainly have every right to do so, but why are these two Evangelical Lutheran Church in America synods supporting a Muslim prayer service and an Israeli-bashing symposium? Do you as ELCA members want your denomination to be associated with this kind of thing?
So in an effort to set the record straight on the quest for peace in the Middle East, please watch this six minute video.
Israel Palestinian Conflict: The Truth About the Peace Process
Here is an interesting article about an organization called Greater Cleveland Congregations, "Have Alinsky Political Operatives Infiltrated Cleveland’s Christian, Jewish & Muslim Faith Communities?" (read here)
At least three ELCA entities are involved in this group:
- ELCA North East Ohio Synod
- ELCA Gift of God
- Hope Lutheran Church(read here)
The ELCA continues to show that promoting their political positions is a major priority. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America just posted on their website and sent out an email asking readers to "Call Your Representative Today to Vote NO on the 'Cut, Cap and Balance Act.'" (see here)
Here is another example of the ELCA using their resources and displaying their true focus -- pushing a political agenda.Remember that when you give to the ELCA, your money that is intended as a tithe and gift to God is really going to promote the ideology of the Democratic party, the ELCA's social justice causes and progressive policies. When you throw in the fact that the ELCA is seemingly indifferent to making disciples for Christ and bringing the lost to the salvation offered by Jesus (to all those who believe), I wonder if God finds your gifts and tithes acceptable.