Last week, the long running television show 60 Minutes broadcast a news report that has been widely criticized for its bias, false statements, and anti-Israel sentiment. (see here and here for examples) Not surprisingly the ELCA has posted the 60 Minutes news segment video on their official elca.org website. (see here). Even before the 60 Minutes news segment aired, the ELCA e-Advocacy Network sent out an email promoting the segment and trying to encourage everyone to watch it.
One issue asserted by the 60 Minutes program was that Israel is to blame for the Christians leaving the Muslim-controlled territories of Israel. This is a popular claim by the anti-Semitic crowd. Highly regarded Pulitzer Prize–winning syndicated columnist, Charles Krauthammer took on that claim while appearing on Fox News by saying, “. . . the untold story is the story of the Palestinian territories. Bethlehem, for example, has been almost emptied of its Christians and sort of the Orwellian reporting of the West has attributed this somehow to Israel, when in fact it’s been the rise of militant Islam, Hamas and other radical sects within the Palestinian territories that have lead to a large immigration of Christians from the Palestinian territories . . .”
CBN News reported on the plight of Christians in Bethlehem in 2009, and it is nothing like the 60 Minutes report. Here is the video -
The 60 Minutes report also praised the Kairos Palestine document, which is outrageously bias and anti-Israel. (see here and here)
One of the signers of that document, Pastor Mitri Raheb was highlighted on the 60 Minutes news segment. For those of you who may not remember, Pastor Raheb was the focus of another Exposing the ELCA blog (see here) in which the accused anti-Semitic pastor was praised by ELCA’s Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson.
Below is a letter from St. Mark's Lutheran Church (Marion, Iowa) church council president and senior pastor indicating that this ELCA and LCMC dual-affiliated church has been removed from the ELCA roster of churches by the Southeastern Iowa Synod Council.
April 24, 2012
There is one 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.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you know, the church council has been in continuing conversations with Bishop Michael Burk regarding our denominational affiliation. It has been and continues to be our desire to keep you up to date. We were informed yesterday that on Saturday, April 21, the Southeast Iowa ELCA Synod Council removed St. Mark’s congregation from the roster of ELCA churches. St. Mark’s remains a Lutheran church, our building remains the property of St. Mark’s, and our congregation’s mission continues as before. We neither celebrate nor grieve the synod’s actions, but we desire to listen to those who may be hurting or confused as a result of these actions.
After the decisions of the ELCA church-wide assembly in 2009, our congregation spent much time studying our denominational affiliation. Our congregational votes to leave the ELCA ultimately resulted in St. Mark’s remaining part of the ELCA. To bring healing and unity to our church family, the church council held discussions with congregational members and Bishop Burk, and reviewed the precedent set by other congregations who are dual-affiliated. After these actions, the church council voted to join Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) while remaining in the ELCA.
Soon after St. Mark’s dual affiliation with the ELCA and the LCMC, the synod placed our congregation under censure and admonishment. In addition, Pastor Fruhling was recently removed from the clergy roster of ELCA pastors. The synod’s unprecedented action to remove St. Mark’s from the ELCA because of our dual affiliation is saddening and disappointing. We remain a distinctly Lutheran congregation in the Cedar Rapids area as a part of the LCMC, and we belong to no one but Christ.
St. Mark’s will continue to support and work with our brothers and sisters in the ELCA and remain faithful to our mission partners in the ELCA, such as CrossRoads Mission, San Lucas and Cristo Rey Lutheran churches in Texas and Mexico, and World Hunger Appeals, among others. Our focus remains on outreach and our mission is to share Christ’s love with others.
We will continue our pastoral call process and begin to look at constitutional updates that will be needed. While there are challenges ahead, there are opportunities for strengthening our witness as the body of Christ, and we are confident that St. Mark’s will move forward in mission for our Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Previous article about St. Mark's Lutheran Church:
- Dual Rostered Church Censured, Pastor De-Rostered By ELCA Bishop (see here)
Gender Neutralizing God in the ELCA
Using masculine terms for God seems to be a big deal to the ELCA. What I should really say is, they don’t seem to like using masculine terms for God. A couple of years ago Exposing the ELCA reported (see here) on a page published within the ELCA's official website called, “What is the proper use of language in worship?” (see here) On that page, the ELCA says, "The metaphorical use of the term ‘father’ continues to be used in worship, alongside many other biblical metaphors for God. However, because sin can distort even the fundamental relationships of parents to children, the image of a father may be difficult to comprehend for some who have experienced alienation in their relationship to a human father." They then, in an obvious attempt to get you to stop using male terms in reference to God, offer this, “Titles that suggest the activity of God may be used to address God . . .” Moments later they say, “Second-person pronouns, instead of gender specific and third person pronouns, may be used to address God.” (An example of a second-person pronoun is “you.” An example of a third-person pronoun is “he.”)
The ELCA’s webpage then tries to dismiss the maleness of Jesus saying “the humanness of Jesus has always been viewed as more significant than his male gender.” Continuing they state, “Although the use of male pronouns is appropriate when referring to Jesus, care should be taken to find other ways to speak of Jesus that emphasize humanness rather than maleness.”
Please read the page I’m referring to. It seems clear to me that the ELCA has a problem with using male gender terms to refer to God the Father. They are doing everything they can to steer you away from using male terms for God, except for being straight forward with us and saying, “Don’t use them.” With Jesus, it looks to me like the ELCA wants people to de-emphasize the maleness of Jesus.
On that same ELCA page, strangely enough, the ELCA seems to be pretty supportive of calling the Holy Spirit “she.” I quote, “Throughout the history of the church, feminine pronouns have often been employed in reference to the Spirit. Some see this usage as balancing the masculine Father and Son references.”
Just so you know how seriously the ELCA considers the issue of using gender neutral language for God, check out the ELCA magazine Gather. On their “Writer guidelines” page they give a list of “Requirements.” One of the requirements is to “use inclusive language.” They go on to explain “Generally, avoid using pronouns (he, she, his, her) when referring to God, and words for God that are exclusively masculine should be used only rarely (for example, use ruler, not king).” (see here)
A few weeks ago I shared with you that a synod bishop had made a slanderous statement to a congregation who was considering whether to stay or end its affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The statement was made in reference to me. (see here)
The bishop in this situation is Bishop Steven L. Ullestad of the Northeastern Iowa Synod. Through an attorney, I contacted Bishop Ullestad by letter. This is the letter he received - here.
In order to clear my name, to stop possible future deceptive slanderous attack against myself, and to inform ELCA members who may have been subject to hearing this false accusation, I decided that I needed to share this letter with you.
As of today, I have not received an apology or any reply from Bishop Ullestad.
Read the Exposing the ELCA Newsletter, April - 2012 edition. (here)
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.
Poll on Gay Marriage
Exposing the ELCA asked it’s readers:
"Do you think ELCA leadership desires to see gay marriage legalized?"
93.24% of the respondents said "Yes" (317 votes)
3.53% of the respondents said "No" (12 votes)
3.24% of the respondents said "I Don't Know" (11 votes)
Total Votes: 340
ELCA News Briefs
Financial trouble in the liberal Saint Paul Area Synod. Synod Bishop Peter Rogness reports, “after sailing through the first ten months of fiscal 2011 (Feb. 1 to Jan. 31) a healthy four percent ahead of the previous year, we encountered a poor December and January and ended the year 4.1 percent behind last year, the lowest mission support level in what has been a consistent range for 24 years. The synod council in January made some adjustments to the 2012 budget passed last May, and we will present for the 2013 budget a conservative plan that calls for drawing on reserves, and we will plan to conduct a review through the end of this year and hold out the possibility of another adjustment.” (read here)
ELCA pastor Grant Stevensen heads the faith department of Minnesotans United for All Families, an organization whose goal is to defeat a Minnesota Marriage Amendment which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. (see here)
Part of Edina Community Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Edina Minnesota’s Easter offering to go to gay advocacy group. The church newsletter tells us,
“This Easter, we lift up our neighbors of all ages by supporting organizations reaching out to the whole family:
Lutherans Concerned/North America and Plymouth Christian Youth Center.
Lutherans Concerned continues to seek full inclusion for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) individuals and families in all ELCA congregations. . . Please supports these organizations by participating in this year’s Easter offering.” (page 2)
This newsletter also has a large graphic telling everyone to “Save the Date” for an upcoming (gay) Pride Parade. (page 10)
And Edina Community Lutheran Church has launched a “Marriage Task Force, formed after the congregational vote to officially oppose the state constitutional amendment on marriage” happening in the state of Minnesota. (page 11) (see here)
The Bible tells us to “Test all things; hold fast that which is good.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:21. In 1 John 4:1 it says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."
In the process of a church voting to stay or end their affiliation with the ELCA, the denomination requires the congregation to meet with their synod’s bishop. During a number of these meetings, over the past couple of months, I’ve received reports from various individuals, from different congregations, that an ELCA bishop has been giving congregations and their members false information about my academic standing while I was studying at an ELCA seminary. This bishop publicly announced that I “flunked out” of seminary. To be perfectly clear, this ELCA bishop is not telling the truth. I have the papers to prove it. It is an underhanded, desperate, and dishonest move by an ELCA leader.
The ELCA leadership can not defend the positions, teachings and actions of their denomination, so like today's politicians, some choose to attack the messengers. This bishop doesn’t even use facts; he announces false information to congregations, in all likelihood hoping it will serve his cause to keep congregations in the ELCA, to avoid answering for the issues I’ve brought forth and to make people doubt the multitude of information on my website. This is slander.
I hope you are “testing the spirits” in everything the ELCA leadership has to say.
If you have heard similar “reports” from an ELCA leader which are personally damaging and cause harm to the reputation of ExposingtheELCA.com, would you please contact me? (go here)
I will have more to say about this in the future.
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