Professors at Wartburg Theological Seminary (ELCA) are known to promote and teach universalism. Dr. Duane Priebe, Professor of Systematic Theology at Wartburg wrote this in the first printing of the Augsburg Fortress Lutheran Study Bible, “Jesus includes in salvation people who do not believe in him or ever know about him (5:3-10; 25:31-45).” page 1658. Wartburg professor Dr. David J. Lull, Professor of New Testament, published an article where he said, "Jesus did not have to die as a condition of God’s forgiveness of sins. Mark knew that Jesus knew that God had always forgiven the sins of 'many/all,' and that God would keep on forgiving their sins." (see here)
Today we will look at and quote from a sermon given at Wartburg Theological Seminary, in the chapel, by Rev. Dr. Craig Nessan. Dr. Nessan is the Academic Dean and Professor of Contextual Theology at the ELCA seminary.
On February 27, 2013, during Dr. Nessan's sermon, he went into a strange diatribe on salvation, saying that some people think they know who will be saved. At one point Dr. Nessan, in my view, seemed to be mocking God with a number of statements including this, “God knows who deserves to live and who deserves to die.” This was Dr. Nessan's way of setting up his view of salvation for those listening (future ELCA pastors).
The scripture readings for Dr. Nessan's sermon came from Luke 13:22-31 and 2 Chronicles 20:1-20, to which he called the later “texts of terror.” Luke 13:29 says, “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” From this verse Dr. Nessan switches to the 2 Chronicles passage concerning the country of Judah and tells the students that the people to the east, west, north and south are the Ammonites, Philistines, Syrians, and Moabites. This was another step in Dr. Nessan's leading his listeners in his universalist way of thinking, by associating these peoples, who worship false-gods, with those who would inherit salvation.
Completing his plan, teaching and leading the seminarians toward universalism, Dr. Nessan refers to Luke 13:24 where Jesus says, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door . . .” and Dr. Nessan concludes, “It makes me wonder, what is the shape of that narrow door? Who gets in if the narrow door is shaped like the cross? Who gets in if its shaped like the 'loaf?' Who gets in if its shaped like the 'cup?' Who gets in when it is given and shed for you, to the east? And given and shed for you to the west? And given and shed for you to the north and to you to the south? Given and shed for all for the forgiveness of sins?” (listen here)
Dr. Nessan failed to proclaim and uphold God's Truth revealed in Scripture. He taught heresy to future pastors and untold lives will be adversely affected because of this. God clearly tells us his plan for salvation and how one is saved. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.” John 1:12 tells us, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (Also see Romans 10:9-10, Romans 3:21, John 8:24.) God tells us we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and it is not Dr. Nessan's dangerous false-doctrine of universalism.
After hearing the sermon, one seminarian on Facebook said, “Chapel at WTS messed me all up today. I think that is a good thing.” Responding to the seminarian's comment, an ELCA pastor said tellingly, "Jesus Christ is present in . . . religions."
The ELCA leadership is notorious for questioning scripture. They love to introduce doubt into lay persons’ and seminary students’ minds. Doubt about the truth of scripture. They did this when the ELCA website openly questioned the virgin birth. (read here) Similarly, they encourage questioning key areas of orthodoxy in regard to sin, salvation, creation, hell, factual events in scripture and the inerrancy of scripture, to name a few. (just look around this website) Consider the following as further shocking evidence of one key ELCA leader’s thoughts in regard to hell. (also notice the tone of universalism in what he says)
Bishop Peter Rogness of the Saint Paul Area Synod had this to say:
“I’ve never been much concerned about hell, I guess.”
“I think the ministries that emphasize the reality of hell are also prone to a heavy dose of self-righteousness. . .”
“While the Bible has several intriguing (and varying) references to hell, clearly the God we meet in Jesus Christ is a God who meets us in love and grace and forgiveness and acceptance . . .”
Please go back and read your Bible a little more diligently, Bishop Rogness. Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone else in scripture. If hell is an important enough topic for our Lord and Savior to warn people about, maybe you should too.
Bishop Rogness also said, “I think we have to conclude that whether there is a hell or not is ultimately not going to make or break our faith.” (see here)
This is a perfect example of the ELCA leadership’s view of scripture. If there is something in scripture that the "intellectual" elites do not like, they question it or discard it.
Bishop Rogness, the book of Revelation has a lot to say about the realities of hell. Revelation also says, “And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” - Revelation 22:19
Universalism is a teaching that is widely held in the ELCA. (see here) It is very apparent to anyone who isn’t blindly loyal to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church (Richfield, WI) is in the process of voting to leave the ELCA. I would like to direct you to a document they produced in which they answered this question, “Has the ELCA really changed the basic message of the Christian faith?”
Here is Shepherd of the Hills Church's answer:“While the official teaching of the ELCA is sound,
the actual teaching seen in our seminaries, church
publications, and pronouncements by pastors and
leaders is often very different. Gradually, the ELCA
has de‐emphasized the basic message of sin,
repentance, faith, and salvation through Jesus
Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, and on
Easter, victory over Satan and death (2nd Timothy
1:10). In its place, we read and hear several
alternative messages.One popular ELCA message is the gospel of
affirmation. This teaching suggests that the good
news is that God loves and affirms everyone,
regardless of their faith, life style choices, etc.
There never is a need for real repentance because
God is never angry with us. Another misleading
teaching common in ELCA sources says that Jesus
hgives us the example, and the Holy Spirit gives us
the power, to build the Kingdom of God on earth ‐
‐ by fighting hunger and poverty, promoting
peace, fighting racism, sexism, hetero‐sexism, and
other oppressions, and building brotherhood and
sisterhood on earth by honoring all sincere faiths
as paths to God.The ELCA has lost focus on our five‐hundred year
old Law/Gospel balance by over‐focusing on the
Gospel (Saved by Grace ‐ Eph. 2:8) at the expense
of the Law (The 10 Commandments). The classic
view is that the Law convicts us of our sin and the
Gospel is the good news that God saves us from
the punishment we deserve by the sacrificial
death of Christ. Grace is defined as “undeserved
love.” Today grace is being redefined to say that
God is always affirming us, and nothing else. This
distorts a biblical understanding of love, where
love includes the “tough love” that prunes our
rebellious hearts into greater Christ‐likeness.
We find evidence for this in the fact that most
ELCA produced Sunday school curriculum,
catechism materials, adult bible studies, the
Lutheran magazine, ELCA website, etc., fail to
plainly explain that we are sinners, doomed to
death, unless we receive Christ with faith. This
shows us that the working theology of the ELCA is
universalism – blanket salvation for everyone,
regardless of whether they know Christ.”
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church will be taking their second vote on leaving the ELCA June 2011.
The Bible teaches that we need to believe in Christ. John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
The teaching of universalism, in essence, says that everyone will go to heaven no matter what they do, think, believe or worship. This is not Biblical and it is very dangerous. People will go to hell because they believe in universalism and not Christ. Yet here is a Luther Seminary (ELCA) professor arguing the merits of universalism and encouraging the preaching of this heresy.
“The Rob Bell Controversy: Does Anyone Go To Hell?“ by David Lose, Director, Center for Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary. (read here)
For more information on the ELCA’s support and teaching of universalism/ universal salvation see here.
Exposing the ELCA polled its readers asking this: “If you conclude that the ELCA teaches and/or supports the belief that 'everyone will be saved,' is that sufficient grounds to leave the denomination?”
The results of the poll -
90.31% of the readers said “Yes.” (177 votes)
9.69% of the readers said “No.” (19 votes)
There were a total of 196 votes cast.
Universal salvation, the view that all people will be saved, is taking over the ELCA as the prominent belief regarding salvation, thanks to the leadership of the denomination. (see here and here) This anti-Biblical, dangerous belief is thriving and leaders in the ELCA are not only doing nothing to stop it, but they are promoting it. All at the expense of billions of souls.
Truth be told, there is no reason to be preaching and teaching universal salvation. First and foremost, it goes against God’s truth revealed to us in the Bible (see here ). Secondly, if it was true, a person would be saved no matter if he/she believed in universal salvation or not.
We know that universal salvation is unfounded and false, yet the ELCA is promoting this belief. The ramifications of this wrong teaching have eternal consequences. 1) Because those that believe this are not telling people about their need for our Savior. 2) People do and believe whatever they want because they think they are “saved know matter what.” Sorry, but universal salvation in the gospel of Satan.
Sadly here is another ELCA leader preaching and teaching universal salvation. Mark Thomsen, Visiting Professor of Mission, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), writes,
“It would appear that if one takes Jesus seriously, faith in the finality of Christ necessarily includes the recognition of God's creative saving work outside of hearing and believing in Jesus Christ!”
“God's universal transforming work identified in the resurrection of Christ has saving significance for the whole of creation and the whole human family, not just for those who hear and respond to the gospel.” (read here)
The universal salvation believing leaders have taken over the ELCA. In our seminaries you have professors that teach pastors, who in turn, affect eternity for millions of people as well as future generations.
Exposing the ELCA has documented that the ELCA’s official website supports and promotes Universal Salvation, the belief that “everyone will be saved.” Within a section called “What We Believe,” on a page dealing with “Salvation” the denomination states:"Because Jesus is the unique and universal Savior, there is a large hope for salvation, not only for me and others with the proper credentials of believing and belonging to the church, but for all people whenever or wherever they might have lived and no matter how religious or irreligious they may have proved to be themselves. It is clearly God’s announced will that all people shall be saved and come to the knowledge of truth (1 Timothy 2:4)."
(ELCA webpage has been taken down but an internet archive website has it here)This is not the only mention of this false teaching on the ELCA website. On “The Resurrection” page, is a subheading “Resurrection for all?” The ELCA document, after first saying that most of the verses in the Bible say not everyone will be saved, goes on to say, "(B)ut ELCA members also look to New Testament texts that go beyond those parameters . . . Lutheran theologian Joseph Sittler coined the phrase ‘Cosmic Christ’ in his 1952 address to the New Delhi assembly of the World Council of Churches, saying, ‘It is now excruciatingly clear that Christ cannot be a light that lighteth everyone coming into the world, if he is not also the light that falls upon the world into which everyone comes.’"
A little later it states, “For ELCA members, the resurrection that completes the victory of Christ over sin and death is not intended for Christians alone.”
The article continues,
causes us to bear witness that Christ, the principal of creation, is also the principal of the new life initiated by his resurrection for all creation. For St. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:19, ‘in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.’
- our belief that Christ came into the world to redeem the world (John 3:17)
- our belief in the proclamation that God has ‘a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth,’ (Ephesians 1:10)
- our trust in God’s righteousness
ELCA members believe that, being ‘entrusted’ with this message of reconciliation, we are to proclaim this salvation intended for all humankind, this redemption of the whole world, this resurrection to new life.” (webpage has been taken down but an internet archive website has the page here)
This is on the ELCA’s official website, and it is contained in a section called “What We Believe.” Is there any doubt the ELCA is preaching Universal Salvation?
To read more evidence that the ELCA teaches and promotes Universal Salvation see here.
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
New Horizons Lutheran Church in Falcon, CO is "a congregation being developed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)." (read here)
After reading the universalist type language on New Horizons website, I wrote and asked the the ELCA church's pastor if he could explain his church's view on universal salvation, and more specifically if everyone was "saved."
Rev. Timothy P. Singleton responded saying, "Everyone will eventually be saved. Everyone is not saved right now, but eventually all that is -- seen, unseen, past, present, and future -- will be redeemed by the grace and love of God.
I am what you would call a Trinitarian Universalist."
It is one of the goals of this website and blog to continue to present evidence that the ELCA promotes and teaches universal salvation. (read here for more information)
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.