(The following is by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. Follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and twitter - here.)
How do liberal pastors get around the Bible's clear teaching that Jesus is the only way of salvation (John 14:6, Acts 4:12)? Below is a tragic example of a pastor trying to do just that. You will notice the tortured hermeneutics he uses to get around the plain meaning of John 14:6. It is sad because once Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, a huge ELCA congregation, was known for being more evangelical. It looks like ...those days are gone.
Pastor Tom Brock
From Prince of Peace's website:
March 16, 2015 by Jeff Marian
Recently a friend confided that he was troubled by John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
Like many others, my friend was troubled by the way that this verse is often interpreted. The interpretation goes something like this: “God will only accept, and give entrance into heaven, those who believe certain doctrines about Jesus, like his virgin birth, his divine/human nature, his substitutionary atonement. Everyone else will be rejected and condemned.”
John 14:6 would trouble me, too, if that’s what I thought it meant. But I don’t, if for no other reason than that it runs counter to the profound inclusivity that Jesus modeled throughout his life and ministry.
There are, fortunately, other ways to understand and interpret Jesus’ words...I understand “the way” of Jesus as the pathway of love, forgiveness and self-sacrifice … not the way in to God’s favor, and not the way out of eternal condemnation. The way, the truth and the life are not an end result reserved for people who believe certain religious doctrines. Daily dying to old self-centered ways and daily rising to newness of life is a journey that’s universal and inclusive, and God’s Spirit meets and empowers all who choose to walk that road.
I’ve met far too many who profess all the right doctrine but seem to walk the dead-end road of life-denying anger and judgment. But I’ve never met anyone walking in the way of Jesus – dying to self-centeredness and rising to newness of life – who didn’t radiate life-giving grace, no matter what their doctrine.
So, in light of John 14:6, I think the question is this: Which “way” are you walking?
Jeff Marian is Lead Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is wading into the political realm and once again placing their own fanciful and dubious dreams above the safety and security of the Jewish people. Last week the ELCA sent out an advocacy action alert asking readers to “(t)ell your elected officials: Support a negotiated deal with Iran.”
Many in the United States and Israel are saying the current deal with Iran is bad, but here we have the ELCA calling for a negotiated nuclear deal with them.
Let's look at and respond to some of the statements from the ELCA's action alert:
That is not true. I bad deal is worse than no deal for the Israelis (who Iran constantly threatens to destroy), the Palestinians and all of Iran's neighbors. An armed conflict is better than allowing the evil regime to obtain nuclear warheads and make good on their threat to wipe out the Jewish state.
Wrong again. A deal that allows Iran to get nuclear weapons or a deal that can not guaranty that Iran abides by the rules, makes for a terrifying world. Iran is the number one supporter and purveyor of terrorism. They call the United States “the great Satan.” They call for our destruction. They are developing missiles that can reach America.
A bad deal is worse than no deal.
That is a big assumption. Can you say “North Korea?” And thinking that Iran will comply with the rules is naive at best. They have a long history of breaking the rules with the United Nations regarding their quest for nuclear power (weapons).
Seriously? Get on with the Iran deal so we can focus on the main problem of the Israeli-Palestinian issue? That issue is so important to the ELCA that they have to insert it into the conversation about stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons?
To be frank, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is not an honest broker when it comes to Israel. (see here and here) The ELCA view of a deal between Israel and Palestinians has the Palestinians getting most all of their demands and Israel getting a “promise” of peace.
Again the ELCA is wrong. The threat of new sanctions will increase the likelihood of a “good” deal with Iran, as will the need of congressional approval for a deal.
The ELCA and President Obama need to step back and let the nation at most risk of being attacked by a nuclear Iran (Israel) have the ultimate say on whether a deal should be made. Because sadly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the president do not have Israel's best interest or survival in mind.
The following is by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org and was written a number of weeks ago. Follow Pastor Brock on Facebook (here) and twitter (here.)
This week our TV show was on America's desperate need for repentance. I then received the below email from a viewer with whom I've gone back and forth. If I remember right, he attends a liberal ELCA church--and it shows. He writes:
Contrary to what you say, the reason there is homosexual marriage in ...Minnesota is because numerous respected theologians - including numerous academic theologians - including numerous theologians of all/most Christian and Jewish faiths (Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, UCC, etc) - interpret the Bible differently than you do.
In an earlier email to me, you acknowledged that you are human and subject to error - yet you continue to preach that you're 100% correct on your interpretation of the Bible regarding homosexual marriage. I leave it to God to judge.
…on any given Biblical interpretation subject, I read available literature by respected theologians - and then I go with those who are most compassionate - and I'm comfortable that Jesus would too.
What did Jesus Christ say about homosexual marriage? My search reveals nothing.
Even Pope Francis is coming around - acknowledging that judging homosexuals and their behavior is not his role - it's God's role.
Thanks for writing,
Yes, I believe I am right on this issue, as you believe you are. Jesus said that false prophets would arise, so it is understandable that one can find “respected scholars” who deny the Scriptures. In liberal circles, retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg are “respected scholars”. They both deny that Jesus physically rose from the dead, something the Bible says one must believe to be saved (Romans 10:9). The question is: Which scholars are faithful to the plain meaning of Scripture and uphold the way Christians have believed the Scriptures for 2000 years? I think it is important to point out that is not compassionate nor loving to affirm someone in a behavior which will exclude them from heaven (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
Even if the Pope were to affirm homosexual behavior, which he has not done, that would change nothing. For a Christian, the Bible, not the Pope, is the highest authority.
Jesus did indeed refer to marriage as between a man and a woman (Matthew 19). Because Jesus did not specifically mention homosexuality, rape, incest, bestiality, wife-beating, etc. does not mean He is in favor of those things. Jesus was a Jew who believed in the Old Testament teachings on these issues.
My hope and prayer for you is that if you are attending a church which has gone astray on these issues, you will find a good church which upholds the historic teachings of the Bible as the Church has believed for 2000 years.
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Tom Brock
Many parents believe that by sending their child to St. Olaf College (ELCA) they will be taught by Christian professors at a Christian school. Think again. John Barbour, Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College, on the St. Olaf website, says “Students, faculty and staff are free to practice any religion they want or no religion” and that St. Olaf has a “community-wide commitment to religious diversity and pluralism." (see here at the 7 minute mark).
Many parents also believe that they are sending their child to a good Christian, God-honoring school that believes Scripture. Decide for yourself when you read this from the St. Olaf College Religion Department -
“. . .I’ve come to believe that religious truth is more likely to be found in fiction than anywhere else, and that’s especially true for me when it comes to encountering the Bible. (A quick example: Moses’ encounter with the burning bush is the best metaphor I have for how I understand my own sense of wonder in the universe. Do I believe it historically happened? No. In my own passion for that text, do I believe it says something real of how I experience and creatively engage truth? Absolutely.)” (read here)
So the Bible is just a bunch of made up stories? Remember, this comes from the St. Olaf Religion Department.
And what else do the students learn at St. Olaf? Let's go back to St. Olaf's own website to find out -
“I think my faith and my academic study occur together most strongly as acts of loving interrogation. Theology offered me the language to ask questions I had always wanted to ask but didn’t know how about meaning and injustice and the fragility and resilience of human relationships. I believe my job as a person of faith is to be a theologian of the cross, as Luther said: to not look away from suffering in the world–especially suffering caused by stories told and symbols thrown by Christians, by Christian theologies, by harmful Christian imaginations–and to interrogate and to seek the creative transformation of those worldviews in love. Ask yourself: Does this theology commit harm against people of other religions? Does it perpetuate white privilege and racism? Does it commit intellectual or material violence towards queer, gay, lesbian, and trans folks? Does its portrayal of a male God scapegoat women? Does it sanction violence and hatred in any form? These are questions I have to and get to ask out of love. From the my academic study, I get to honor the very Christian calling that I demand my own traditions be better in their own calling, in what they says they are.
Finally, I utterly believe that my teaching and my writing are fundamental, fragile acts of hope. I write on environmental ethics, on climate change, on theology. And there are days when the climate science and the history of Christian violence towards the earth and loss of fellow creatures breaks my heart, and the imagination can quickly spiral into an overwhelming despair. (The Western Black Rhino was officially declared extinct recently. I, and you, will never get to see one). And that’s when my theological work, my academic work, becomes one of the deepest boons to my own sense of faith, as mysterious as I find it to myself. Because writing, the very act, the very practice of writing a sentence that reimagines what faith means on a warming planet, is an expression that that sentence, that idea, that story told in that way, might matter for the very life and imagination of myself or someone else. Theology, for me, gives me permission to fall neither into utter despair nor utter denial of very real violence. I get to take things seriously and imagine something else is possible. Without a vision, the people [and the planet, I would add] perish, Proverbs says. Hope is an incredibly ordinary thing. . . .” (read here)
Liberal social justice. I can't believe there are very many parents and donors out there that want students to walk away from college with this view of Scripture and Christianity.
By Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. Follow Pastor Brock on Facebook (here) and twitter (here.)
Here is an excerpt from the March 2015 edition:
"(Homosexual man) Lenox found a committed partner in Nathan Merrells. After about five years together, both men were ready to start a family. “Why can’t we be like everyone else?” Lenox wondered.
Around that time Lenox and Merrells met a lesbian couple who had adopted a son through the Lutheran agency. They urged Lenox to apply as a single parent, assuring him that being gay need not rule him out....(Social worker Sandy) Deutsch gives credit to Bill Brittain, then head of the Lutheran organization, for his compassionate, forward-thinking leadership. Other agencies wouldn’t have accepted Lenox as an adoptive parent, she said, but Brittain valued a child’s well-being above traditional notions of what an ideal family looked like." (see here)
My comment: Tragic that a Lutheran agency will put an orphan into the hands of two homosexuals rather than providing a mother and a father. Also tragic that the ELCA's official magazine writes a glowing article about it.
Clint Schnekloth is one of the most prominent and influential pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and his voice carries a lot of weight in the denomination. He is an author and blogger; he launched and facilitates the ELCA Clergy Facebook Group that has over 5800 members. And Pastor Schnekloth himself tells us that he -
In a letter posted on his blog he writes -
“This is why I'd like to say here what I often say to LGBT families in our congregation. Not only are you welcome. Not only are you tolerated. You are beautiful. Your same-gender partnership is attractive and a witness in our church. We want to learn from you.” (read here)
Again on the ELCA Clergy Facebook page, Rev. Schnekloth writes -
“Here is what I want to know. It seems popular these days to go with the Gnostic notion that Jesus was married. But this seems to fall right into the hands of heteronormativity. If Jesus wasn't single, it's pretty clear to me he was in a committed relationship with the beloved disciple, another man. Why do we assume he was attracted to women?” (posted here)
How sad that this man's view, this man's theology, is whole-heartedly accepted in the ELCA.
After reading Pastor Schnekloth's defaming of Christ and celebration of sexual sin, it is with gladness that I can tell you there was a massive split in the church (Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Fayetteville, AR) that Rev. Schnekloth leads. Last month Rev. Schnekloth wrote -
“I'm doing a 'state of the church' sermon tomorrow. My plan is to name the reality of the new church that has broken off from us...” - (read here and for a news article of the new church read here)
It is almost unbelievable that anyone chose to remain under the leadership of this vocal, extremely liberal pastor. It is equally unbelievable that 3.8 million people have chosen to remain under the teaching of the satanically-inspired theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
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