The following is a letter from both the council president and senior pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Marion, Iowa. (elca.org lists St. Mark's average attendance at 961)
March 27, 2012
There is on body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6
Dear Partners of St. Mark’s,
As we continue our Lenten journey, we give thanks to God for calling us to the cross and into a deeper relationship with Christ, and for continuing opportunities for faithful service to Him. St. Mark’s church council last updated you in late November regarding denominational issues. That update followed the council’s resolution to dual roster with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Since then, we have continued conversations with our synod bishop, Michael Burk, in regard to our relationship with the ELCA.
In response to the council’s November resolution, Bishop Burk has placed St. Mark’s under censure and admonishment. Our council has continued conversations with the synod to fully understand what this means. The first indication of any change in procedures was that the synod office would not provide assistance to us in the pastoral call process. Our call committee, however, is continuing its work and has several excellent ELCA pastoral candidates with whom it is moving forward in conversations that may ultimately lead to a call. Each of the candidates is aware of our circumstances and is pleased to continue the interview process.
This past week we received word that Pastor Perry Fruhling has been removed from the ELCA clergy roster. While the ELCA actions are disappointing, we anticipated that there could be some ramifications to our council resolution. Pastor Perry was called and will continue to serve St. Mark’s congregation for years to come. Arrangements have been made to ensure continuity of his healthcare benefits and pension. Since Pastor Perry was called according to our constitution as an ELCA pastor, we have simply extended the provisions of that call going forward.
What follows remains in the hands of our local bishop and the Southeastern Iowa Synod Council. In our communication with the bishop, we have made it clear that we desire to continue our current relationship with the ELCA as a dual-rostered church. We continue as a congregation to generously support numerous faithful ELCA ministries.
Our application to affiliate with the LCMC has been accepted, and we remain committed to being part of a Lutheran church body. Regardless of any ELCA actions, St. Mark’s continues as a Lutheran church and ownership of our building remains firmly with our congregation. Our building addition gives St. Mark’s the unique ability to reach out to the community and continue to serve others. Our recent Christmas Eve services and Ash Wednesday service had record numbers of people attending. As a congregation of faithful servants to God’s Word, we will continue to grow.
We encourage you to pray for the ELCA, the LCMC and for all members of St. Mark’s as we move forward in serving Christ. As always, please call or email email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
Yours in Christ,
The following will give you some insight into what was happening in ELCA seminaries back in 1992, 20 years ago.
(from the publication First Things, title "The Real John Dewey Richard." Written by John Neuhaus.)
Nobody would dispute the observation that Carl Braaten is among the most respected theologians on the American scene. (See his “Protestants and Natural Law” elsewhere in this issue.) Recently he surprised almost everyone by announcing that, after many years of teaching there, he is leaving the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago to set up an independent institute for theology in Northfield, Minnesota. His friend Robert Jenson of St. Olaf College in Northfield reflects on why Braaten is leaving LSTC. What Jenson says about Lutheran seminaries has, we are sure, application far beyond the boundaries of Lutheranism. Jenson writes: “Long ago, the church's demand for various sorts of ‘practical' and therapeutic ‘experiences' in the seminary curriculum reduced their space for theology below the viable quantity. Biblical, historical, and systematic theology are hard disciplines, to which only the very most able and well-prepared can catch on quickly. For decades, a seminary teacher of serious theology has had to look out at his/her classses in the certain knowledge that with most of the students the labor was in vain. With those few gifted ones, teaching theology was a joy. But it was a joy dampened by guilt and panic over the innocents being graduated and the parishes they would serve.
“A few years ago the situation futher deteriorated as the recruitment of students changed. Seminary students now for the most part arrive with no appropriate higher education whatsoever. More disastrously yet, a decisive number seem somehow to self-select from the least catechized segments of our in-any-case secularized churches. This of course changed the curricular situation from calamitous to hopeless. And such students are defenseless over against the next-to-be-named set of evils.
“In the seminaries of the ELCA there is now a theological censorship of a stringency previously unknown in Lutheranism outside the Missouri Synod. The new reactionaries of course enforce a different selection of nineteenth-century sectarianism than did those of Missouri; alas, it is one even less compatible with theological enterprise or formation. Its chief axioms are perhaps: (1) biblical and historical study is for the purpose of liberating from the language and opinions of the Bible and the tradition; (2) ‘God' is a complex of metaphors, projected from our religious needs and social valuations; (3) the church is a volunteer society of the religiously like-minded, which we continuously re-institute as our religious minds change; and (4) Western civilization is no damned good, and neither can Christianity be insofar as it is responsible for Western civilization. Probably a majority of professors dissent from this position, but the pietism and/or existentialism of most provides no stable basis of resistance, and the remaining margin is just that.
“And finally there is the quota system of faculty appointments-and don't let anyone tell you there isn't one. Faculty who worry about congregations out there fight again and again to appoint the best available scholars and teachers-and maybe even an unabashed Christian or two. But how many of these battles can one sustain in an ecclesial culture which regards such standards as wicked?” (see here)
There are a number of reasons for the theological drift from Truth happening in the ELCA. The drift started long ago but now it is emerging into an out right rejection of Truth.
We really need to start a series called, “Are ELCA colleges Christian?” I say that because it seems to me, more and more, worldly values and morals are taking precedent within ELCA colleges.
St. Olaf College is affiliated with the ELCA. On St. Olaf's official website we learn of an event called the “Wellness Olympics” and are told this, “Back by popular demand, the Wellness Center is hosting a team-based competition that tests students’ knowledge of sexual health, reproductive anatomy, and STI statistics. It all culminates in an intense relay race to properly put on a condom while wearing ‘beer goggles.’ Come and bring your friends!” (see here)
On St. Olaf College Wellness Center’s Facebook page we are told of this event, but they call it “Condom Olympics!” The Wellness Center apparently invited 399 Facebook members, who in all likelihood are St. Olaf College students with Facebook accounts, to this “Condom Olympics.” Twenty seven people responded saying they were “Going” to the event and 32 people said they “maybe” going. (see here)
St. Olaf’s Student Government Association’s website announced the event this way, “An interactive competition with the purpose of social norming and learning all about condoms. Ahhhhh yeeeah.” (see here - probably wont be on their webpage for long)
Here is one person’s rude comments about the event - http://locallygrownnorthfield.org/post/25173/
So lets get this straight, an event held at St. Olaf College teaches students how to put on condoms while intoxicated, which is what “beer goggles” are to simulate.
People who support St. Olaf College need to know about this.
Dr. Mitri Raheb is a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem. The Jerusalem Post recently printed an article about Rev. Raheb titled, “Former German president to honor anti-Semitic pastor.” It says, “Roman Herzog, the president of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1994 to 1999, is slated to deliver a speech next week in honor of Reverend Mitri Raheb, a fiercely anti-Israel Palestinian Lutheran leader in Bethlehem who has argued that Jews have no right to be present in Israel.” (read here)
“What does that have to do with the ELCA?” you ask. First, Rev. Raheb is pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). The ELCJHL and the ELCA have a very close working relationship. And that, is an understatement. "The ELCA's relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land is long-standing and deep, and we are proud to have relationships with each of the pastors in that church,” says Rev. Robert Smith, ELCA program director for the Middle East and North Africa (see here)
One example of that relationship is stated on the ELCJHL website which says, “Through partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), we are happy to offer our supporters in the USA an opportunity to make a tax-deductible donation toward the ministries of the ELCJHL.” (read here) If you search for “Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land" on
the ELCA.org website you will find 716 results. (see here)
Secondly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s supreme leader, Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson recently gave a glowing endorsement of Rev. Raheb saying, "Mitri Raheb is a pastor with passion in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Persistently working for a lasting, just peace in the Middle East, Pastor Raheb is a visionary leader who has created new pathways in the areas of education, employment and health care . . . This deserved recognition of Pastor Raheb is testimony to the global leadership shared by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and the ELCA remains committed to accompanying this partner church." (see here)
It seems that the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA really likes Rev. Reheb. So let’s find out a little bit more about him. A quick search of the internet finds that “In a speech to the 2010 Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem, Raheb discounted Jewish roots in Israel and said that Palestinian Arabs share DNA with King David and Jesus, but that Netanyahu (the Prime Minster of Israel) does not.” (read here)
Pastor Raheb is quoted as saying, “Actually, the Palestinian Christians are the only ones in the world that, when they speak about their forefathers, they mean their actual forefathers, and also the forefathers in the faith…So, that is the reality of the peoples of the land. Again, they aren’t Israel. This experience I’m talking about, it’s only the Palestinians who understand this, because Israel represents Rome….It was our forefathers to whom the revelation was given…” (see here)
"Discover the Networks" website has this to say about Rev. Reheb, “Raheb is one of the more prominent exponents of Replacement Theology, a doctrine which holds that Christians have replaced Jews in God's master plan and have ‘inherited all of God's promises, including the land of Israel.’ The Catholic Church adamantly repudiated Replacement Theology after the Holocaust, but Palestinian Christians like Raheb have revived it.
Raheb has authored numerous theological articles as well as three books targeted for a more general audience. His 1995 book, I Am a Palestinian Christian, was an opening salvo in his effort to advance the notion that Palestinian Christian claims to the Holy Land are theologically and historically more valid than those of Jews. In two subsequent books (Bethlehem 2000: Past and Present , and Bethlehem Besieged ), Raheb emphasized the ‘plight’ of Palestinians in Bethlehem during the Intifada, portraying them as innocent victims of unbridled Israeli violence.
In his writings, Raheb consistently minimizes or excuses Palestinian terrorism. He does not mention the Palestinians' organized terrorist infrastructure, the corruption and criminality of the Palestinian Authority (PA), or the relentless anti-Semitic incitement that pervades his whole society. Rarely does he mention the harassment and persecution that Palestinian Christians face from radical Islamic groups and from the PA. On those few occasions when he does make reference to some of these realities, he manipulates them to make them appear to be the consequences of Israeli transgressions. Hence, he blames the steady emigration of Bethlehem's Christian Arabs on Israel's ‘occupation,’ not on the PA or the Islamic dominance that has accelerated this centuries-long hemorrhage of Middle Eastern Christian Arabs.” (read here)
Rev. Raheb was also a signer of the Kairos Palestine Document which was outrageously bias and anti-Israel. Here are just a few statements made in the document:
ELCA pastor, the Rev. Andrena Ingram, will be a keynote speaker at the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering. (see here)
This is the same Rev. Ingram who recently wrote:
“This is my body, given for you. … this is a condom, given for you. Use it!” (read here)
First, what a disgusting and irreverent use of God’s words. That is unacceptable. Secondly, as you can read, this ELCA leader is big on condom use. So much so that she passed out condoms during a HIV Testing Event/“community meal” held at her church. She writes that she, “Went inside our hall, found a cute little african basket and filled it with condoms . . . and proceeded to place them on each table (about 7 of them), as people were eating.”
Rev. Ingram also said, “I am not going to get into the ‘religious right’ about having sexual relations. Of course I would hope that you are in a committed relationship, and even then, that both of you have been tested every six months for at least a year, before you trust yourselves with each other’s bodies without a condom.” (read here)
So this pastor, who was chosen by ELCA leadership to speak to our youth at the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering, passes out condoms within her church (with the intention to continuing this practice), mocks the words of Christ and does not hold or advocate that sex be reserved for those who are married.
Jesus said, "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” - Mark 9:42
If you know of a group attending the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering, and a church supporting our young people hearing from leaders such as this, I think it’s time you communicate your concern.
"‘This is my body, given for you?’ Condoms?…” - Rev. Andrena Ingram, keynote speaker for the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering.
The Failing Pro-Life Church
I drove past the local Planned Parenthood today and saw six very brave warriors of Christ standing on the sidewalk holding their pro-life signs. I was impressed that these people cared enough for the unborn innocence to face ridicule and disdain from those driving by on the busy main thoroughfare.
It got me to thinking, are we individually and more so, are our churches willing to stand up for the unborn in the face of anger? Of fear of offending? Of fear of financial backlash?
I am a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), whose leadership and policy always takes a pro-choice position, while attempting to sound accommodating to pro-life members. So it is no surprise that I have not seen any action or statement by the ELCA's controlling hierarchy in support of pro-life causes. As an ELCA member, I have also come to realize that many ELCA churches which have a pro-life outlook will not publicly support the cause. Perhaps that is true of churches in many denominations. The congregational leadership does not want to publicly support pro-life clinics. They do not want their annual report to show a financial gift to a pro-life organization. They do not want a pro-life event to be publicized in the church bulletin. And they surely do not want to say from the pulpit that abortion is wrong, a sin, devastating on the mother, against God’s will or to call it what it is, murder.
There is something wrong in our churches. Call it fear, call it political correctness, or call it not trusting in God’s goodness to provide for them when they stand against this great evil, in the face of a world which embraces it.
We need children of God, warriors for Christ and church leaders who will support and unashamedly proclaim that they and their church are on the side of the unborn.
Drag Shows at Lutheran College
In what seems to be “all the rage” these days at ELCA schools, students at Thiel College recently had their chance to participate in the ever-popular drag show during Thiel College’s gay “pride week.” Thiel College, an ELCA school, promoted the drag show, along with other pride week activities, on their Facebook page. The Thiel College Facebook page posted “It's Pride Week 2012 at Thiel! The schedule of events and colors to wear are: Monday (wear red): Drag Show in theater at 8 p.m.; Tuesday (wear orange): dramatic reading of "The Laramie Project" at 7 p.m. in the LHR; Wednesday (wear yellow); Thursday (wear green): viewing of "For the Bible Tells Me So" in Bly Hall at 8 p.m. with discussion after led by (ELCA) Rev. Bill Bixby; Friday (wear blue): showing of "Out in Silence" (in conjunction with YSUNITY" at 8 p.m. in Bly Hall; and Saturday (wear purple): Masquerade in LHR from 7 p.m. to midnight.” (see here)
For pictures of the 2011 pride week drag show at Thiel College click here.
One movie Thiel College is publicizing to its students, “For The Bible Tells Me So,” on the movie’s official website asks, “Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate?” The website then says the film “brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible.” (see here)
What can you expect, I guess, from a denomination that embraces sin?
Last year Thiel College offered another event featuring men dressed as women at the “Mr. Tomcat” competition. The school's student-run newspaper on March 4, 2011, reported on the annual event saying, “This competition was open to any male student and dared contestants to show their fun side through four categories: swimwear, talent, drag, and formalwear. The swimwear portion of the competition had the contestants sharing their curves, while talent showed the audience each contestant’s passion. Drag was the third portion of the competition, where each contestant was asked to show off their feminine side.” (see here - while you're there you can check out your Horoscope)
There is nothing Christian about this. Jesus would never attend or participate in a drag show. But ELCA colleges are just one more place within the denomination where Scripture is mocked and minds are warped against God and His word. If anyone at Thiel cares to pick up a Bible they should read Deuteronomy 22:5 “A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.”
See Exposing the ELCA’s previous reports on drag shows happening at other ELCA colleges. (see here and here)
Apartheid is “a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race” in South Africa. (see here) Today there is a growing movement to brand Israel as an apartheid state and the leadership of our denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is part of it.
On the ELCA’s official website there are numerous articles and a great deal of information which labels the state of Israel as an apartheid state. Here is what Exposing the ELCA found:
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the president of International Fellowship of Christians and Jews says “In apartheid-era South Africa, black citizens were totally disenfranchised and relegated to the status of second-class citizens. In Israel, on the other hand, both Jewish and Arab citizens have equal protection under the law, enjoy freedom of religion and speech, and have full voting rights. Arab-Israeli members are present in Israel's 120-member parliament, the Knesset.” (read here)
Dennis Prager, a syndicated radio talk show host, author, columnist and public speaker answers the Israel and apartheid question this way, “More and more of these days one hears this charge made . . . There is no truth to it.” (see video below)
Dr. Michael Oren, Ambassador of Israel writes, “In October 2011, Richard Goldstone, the South African Jurist who aided his country’s transition from its apartheid policies, published the following in the New York Times:
‘While “apartheid” can have broader meaning, its use is meant to evoke the situation in pre-1994 South Africa. It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations.’
As the Ambassador of Israel to the United States, I unequivocally refute the charge that Israel is guilty of pursuing a policy of apartheid and, in fact, regard that allegation as deeply offensive. Apartheid refers to a legal system that segregates all aspects of civil society and in which a minority rules over the majority. Israel in no way resembles that system, and any assertion to the contrary is an affront to the true victims of apartheid.
Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and one of only a handful of all countries in the world which has never known a moment of non-democratic rule. Israel is home to over 1.5 million Arab Muslims, Arab Christians, Druze, Baha’i, and Bedouin, all of whom receive full and equal rights under Israeli law.” (see here)
So why are people claiming that Israel is an apartheid state? And why is the ELCA propagating this lie?
Dennis Prager replies, “Because by comparing the freest, most equitable country in the Middle East to the former South Africa, those who hate Israel, hope they can persuade uninformed people that Israel doesn’t deserve to exist just as apartheid South Africa didn’t deserve to exist.” (see here)
Rabbi Eckstein says, “Anyone who promotes the idea of Israel as an ‘apartheid state’ is either ignorant or motivated by bias against the Jewish state so intense that facts and truth no longer have any meaning to them.” (read here)
What do you think?
See more information exposing the lie that Israel is an apartheid state -
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
Former ELCA seminary student and former ELCA member who is fed up with the ELCA's consistent mockery of God's Word.
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Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. - Ephesians 5:11