A Call for Christians to Leave the ELCA
By Jeremy Patterson
Yesterday I posted a call for Christians to leave the ELCA due to it being a “wicked” organization (see screenshot below). This is intended to be an explanation of my intentions in making that post, as well as a defense of it’s truthfulness. If you decide to do me the courtesy of reading this be warned- this post is long.
Let me assure everyone first that I am a depraved wretch at heart, as are we all. I do not think I am better than anyone else. I have been saved by grace through faith in Christ and this was not of myself but it was a gift of God. Many people believe that to point out sin in others is to pretend that you don't have it yourself. That is not the case here. I struggle with sin everyday and I seek to put it to death in my flesh every day. I do not claim to be without sin and I will readily admit it. I just happen to believe that we have a basis in Scripture to know what the truth is about how God's Church should conduct itself, and that we have an admonition from Scripture to hold ourselves and each other to that standard. If you don't believe that, then you don't believe God.
One of the responses I received from a loved one regarding the post in question was some advice, that I should do research before I make judgements. That is sound Biblical advice. I agree that we need to have an accurate knowledge of things before we make judgements about them, and especially before pronouncing those judgements
“Do not judge according to outside appearance, but judge with righteous judgement” John 7:24
I actually have done alot of research on this subject. It is one that concerns me because I have family that I love who are long time members of an ELCA church, and they have a great love for, and take great pride in, their Lutheran tradition. What I said has upset and angered them, as I must admit I knew it would, but I must also admit that I am not sorry that I said it. I actually need to repent of not saying it years ago, and I hope they will thoughtfully consider what I have to say here and not dismiss it out of hand because I am attacking something they love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and I hope this is taken as such.
First I want to make it clear that I love and respect Lutheranism. I think that Lutheran churches which hold to traditional Christian orthodoxy such as the North American Lutheran Church, The Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod, and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod are all wonderful, sound, churches. Though I may disagree with them theologically on some issues, they adhere to Biblical standards in all of the most important ones, and they teach a true Gospel. The ELCA does not. More on that in a minute.
Here I’d like to raise a question that I hope any ELCA adherents will take some time to ponder.
As I said above, much of my family is very proud of their Lutheran roots. My maternal grandfather’s family is of German heritage and their fathers and grandfathers have embraced Lutheranism for many, many generations. Up until the last several decades the Lutheranism that they have embraced has been a true and orthodox faith, grounded in Biblical truth taught for over two-thousand years. My question is: how can you love, respect, and celebrate the Lutheranism of your grandfather- the Lutheranism of Luther, Bonhoeffer, and other great servants of God- and at the same time support and defend teachings that completely contradict what this historic Lutheranism has always taught? This is the folly of “progressive” Christianity. The ELCA didn't change their teachings on this issue because they gained a better understanding of the Word Of God, they changed because they chose to deny the authority of the Word out of a desire to appease and capitulate to a wicked culture. I submit to you that your grandfathers would be ashamed of the “Lutheranism” of the ELCA, and I know enough about Luther to assure you that he would be LIVID.
Second, I’d like to make it clear that by no means am I saying that every person that belongs to an ELCA church is wicked and condemned. I don’t believe that at all. It is actually my hope that Christians will read this and search the Scriptures and ask God to reveal the truth to them about the importance of the issues I will raise here. Maybe you attend an ELCA church and you weren’t aware of some of these issues, or maybe you know about them but you comfort yourself by saying “but it’s okay though because my church isn’t like that” That is why I made the statement in my post about tithing. Even if you don’t agree with the numerous false teachings propounded by the ELCA, if you tithe to an ELCA church you are supporting the advancement of these false teachings. If you realize this and continue to give them your money, then you are complicit in these false teachings. If you are concerned about these things, and are wondering what you should do about it, I would encourage you first to go to your pastor and your church board and write letters to your synod, urge them to repent of these false teachings and leave the ELCA. If they refuse then I would advise you to leave and find a sound church that teaches the whole truth of Scripture. I know this will be a very hard thing to do, but there are many, many Christians out there who will completely agree with and support you in this action. Please, reach out to me via messenger or email (removed ) and I will be happy to help and support you in any way I can.
I’d also like to make it clear that I believe that loving your church and being loyal to it is a beautiful and necessary thing. It is what God calls us to, without a doubt. We are to be in the fellowship of a local church and we are to love our brothers and sisters above our own lives. Luther knew this. Luther loved the Catholic Church of his upbringing. His intention in posting his theses was never to renounce Catholicism and form his own church. In posting his 95 theses Luther wished to start a debate in hopes of bringing about the reform of the Catholic Church. He didn’t want to leave the church, he wanted to point out it’s errors in order to bring it back into line with Scripture. He criticized the church out of love for it. It was only after the Pope and his clergy refused to heed the Word of God that Luther left off trying to reform the Catholic Church and began to teach his own. This is the proper display of love for one’s church, to hold it to the standard of Holy Scripture, and it is a proper display of love for God to leave the church that denies that standard.
To finally get to the heart of the matter, let’s examine the ELCA’s post, that raised my ire, and from whence my call for repentance and exodus came.
“Tonight at sundown, our Muslim neighbors enter into Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims. This month commemorating the revelation of the Qur’an is a month of intense spiritual rejuvenation, devotion, and reflection. We wish all of our Muslim neighbors a generous and blessed Ramadan” From the ELCA FB page April 23, 2020.
The fact that none of the ELCA Lutherans that I know seem to see anything at all wrong with a statement like this coming from what is, at least nominally, a Christian church is disturbing to say the least. I don’t hate Muslims, and I am not saying we shouldn’t be concerned for their well-being, I’m saying exactly the opposite. There is NOTHING holy at all about Islam, Ramadan, or the Qur’an. If there is “spiritual rejuvenation” going on among Muslims during Ramadan it relates only to evil spirits. Islam is a false religion with a false God. They deny the necessity, and even the reality, of Christ’s sacrifice. If we are to properly love our Muslim neighbors we must speak the truth to them. Followers of Islam will end up in hell if they don’t come to faith in Christ. Why is the ELCA encouraging them in their false religious practices rather than urging them to turn to Jesus? How can we as Christians bless them in their worship of idols? What fellowship has Christ with Belial? To those of you who are uninformed enough to assert that Allah and YHWH are the same God, consider this: If Allah sent Christ as a prophet but Christ is not His Son, and if Allah didn’t allow Christ to be crucified but instead Christ died a natural death, and if Allah does not accept faith in Christ as a way to be saved (all of which is written in the Qu’ran), but YHWH sent Christ not only as a prophet but as His only begotten SON, and if YHWH had Him sacrificed in order to make a way, the ONLY way, for men to be saved, then how can Allah and YHWH be the same God? There is only one truth about who God is, He is either Allah of the Qu’ran, or YHWH of the Bible. He can’t be both.
The ELCA’s characterization of Islam as “holy” and “spiritual” isn’t really suprising though. Here is one of the most disturbing places in which the false gospel of the ELCA is exposed. In 2019, at the Churchwide Assembly for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the ELCA adopted as policy “A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment: A policy statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.” This policy says, among other things, that we shouldn't actually affirm, with the Bible, that faith in Christ is the only way to be saved. We have to leave room for the possibility that what God said in the Scriptures in John 14:6, Acts 4:12, and many others is wrong, and that exercising faith in Jesus, in this life, might not be the only way to Heaven. Here are the relevant parts of the statement:
“The Lutheran tradition offers other reasons for caution about our claims to know. Luther said that no human could know another person’s relationship with God. What that person says or does gives us clues, but, ultimately, we cannot see into someone else’s heart (Luther, Bondage of the Will). Similarly, Luther insisted that we cannot know the inner workings of God. God has revealed God’s attitude toward us, overall purpose, and character, but the inner workings of God remain hidden. Hence, we must be careful about claiming to know God’s judgments regarding another religion or the individual human beings who practice it…”.
I am not denying that the statements of Luther above are true. No man can know with 100% certainty that another is saved, but we CAN know with 100% certainty when one is NOT, and we can know that because God tells us plainly in His Word that salvation comes ONLY through faith in Christ. The plain teaching of Scripture is that If a person is not united through faith with Christ in His death and resurrection then that person will end in hell. Period. The hidden innerworkings of God that Luther was speaking about refers only to the manner in which God works which is not plainly revealed to us by Him in His Word, it is not a statement that we can’t take what God said at face value because we can’t know if He means what He says. The statement that “we must be careful about claiming to know God’s judgments regarding another religion or the individual human beings who practice it” is true in the sense that we must be careful to know what Scripture teaches before we say a person is not saved, but Scripture teaches that those who don’t know Christ won’t be saved. If we know that, we can be 100% accurate in saying that those who don’t claim to know Christ are not saved. Many ELCA pastors are universalists, which means that they believe, contrary to what the Bible teaches, that God will save everybody. Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the presiding Bishop of the ELCA, when asked in a 2017 interview the question: “is there a hell?” answered “There may be, but I think it is empty.” She went on to elaborate that God pursues people relentlessly, and that even though some people might deny Him “if God has eternity, then God can certainly keep working on those folks.” These statements are completely contrary to what Christ taught about Hell and what is taught all throughout the Scriptures, that it is a real place and people are going there. The idea that God gives chances to come to Christ even after death is found nowhere in Scripture, and is contrary to what the Word of God says in Hebrews 9:27.
“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgement”
The false Gospel of the ELCA is pronounced in their teaching that faith in Christ in this life may not be necessary for salvation, along with their teaching that some things that the Bible plainly calls sin, are not sin and don’t need to be repented of (in the forefront of this is homosexuality and transexuality). This is not the Gospel, and it would be wisdom to heed the words of Paul regarding the preaching of “another gospel”
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8
In response to the post in question It was pointed out that the ELCA also does nice things to help people. I guess the argument is “see they’re not wicked, they do good things!” In calling the ELCA wicked I never meant to say that they aren’t capable of helping people, or that they don’t help people. Mormons, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, atheists, and all sorts of other false religions help people, and they are all wicked organizations who are teaching things that are leading people to hell, as is the ELCA. That is the wickedness I was speaking of, and it is of the worst type because it has eternal significance for millions of souls.
Please, read the Bible and do as Luther did, trust it as the complete and sufficient authority for Christian faith and practice, love and obey what it says, and hold your church accountable in doing the same. I'm sorry if this angers, offends, or saddens you, but I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me, and you all. Amen.