For churches and ELCA members looking to break away from the ELCA, you will run into a lot of claims aimed at keeping you in the denomination. Bishops will say “we need your (orthodox/traditional) voice” in the denomination. They need you? The ELCA is less Lutheran than it was last year. The ELCA made no repentance over the last 10+ years the WordAlone organization was seeking the ELCA’s return to Scripture. Lutheran Core also saw little change in the ELCA despite their strong voice for a return to orthodoxy. If the ELCA hasn’t returned to the truth, over all these years, what makes one think that they will if your church stays in the ELCA?
Some people claim that the devil is at work trying to divide us. Satan wants you to believe that statement. The fact is, Satan is actually working to change the truth, doctrine and our outlook on Scripture so that people will believe lies and not believe in Christ and find freedom from sin. Satan wants us to stay in a denomination that doesn't bring people to Christ anymore.
I can’t understand those that place unity over God’s truth. If the ELCA decided Bishop Hanson is the Son of God, not Jesus, would those same people still be calling on unity? Would you remain a denomination that so blatantly rejects Truth?
Jaynon Clark, WordAlone Ministries president wrote this to ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, "The time has come for someone--unfortunately me--to step up, no matter what the consequences are for doing so and call, ‘Foul.’ I intend to bellow like an over-padded umpire in this, my attempt, to stop the exportation of this false gospel and new religion you have presided over and imported into the ELCA and beyond. . . You openly proclaim that Scripture lacks clarity and is unable to address this present age with authority. This is blasphemy against God, His Word and the work of the Holy Spirit." (read here)
This "new religion" as Jaynon Clark calls it, is a false religion. I can not imagine God wanting us to remain in a denomination that is working to undermine everything He says. We should pray for them, we should speak the truth in love to them, but we should not remain or partake in their modern day worship of self.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America wants to change the rules. They want to make it much harder for orthodox, traditional, Scripture-believing ELCA churches to leave the denomination.
Read all about it on the front page of Lutheran CORE's newsletter (here). The proposal will be voted on in August 2011 at the next ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
How are these proposed amendments acceptable? Is this an example of Christian love? Did God give the ELCA leadership a 'new revelation' to 'do whatever possible' to take away congregations' free will? The ELCA gives lip-service to respecting our "bound conscience," but in reality their intentions and motivations are only self-serving. Sadly, the ELCA is trying to force you to partake in their heresy, false teachings and false gospel.
My advice - Get out now!
ELCA Is Putting Souls At Risk
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.
Do Not Judge?
"Judge not, that ye be not judged." I imagine this verse has been said in nearly every ELCA church forum on homosexuality. But what does this verse really mean?
Below are two "Daily Devotions with Greg Laurie"
Discerning, Not Condemning
“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”
— Ephesians 4:15
It seems as though every nonbeliever knows Matthew 7:1: "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged." Generally, it goes something like this: The Christian approaches a compromising Christian or a nonbeliever and talks about his or her need for Christ. At some point, the Christian will say that a certain thing is a sin. The other person will respond, "Who are you to judge me? Doesn't the Bible itself say, 'Judge not, lest you be judged'? "
So what does this verse mean? Is Jesus suggesting that we are never to speak truthfully to someone, even if what he or she is doing is wrong? Is that indeed judgmental? Does this mean that Christians are never to be critical or make an evaluation? What did Jesus mean when He said, "Judge not, that you be not judged"?
Some people believe that to be a real Christian, you must love and accept everyone. You must be tolerant of everything and never register an opinion. But is that what a Christian is? No, it isn't. That assumption actually contradicts what we read in other passages of the Bible.
People often say that Jesus was a great humanitarian, loving and caring and sharing. He was those things, but Jesus also was a revolutionary. Jesus confronted people. He had some choice words for the Pharisees, calling them vipers and hypocrites and dead men walking. When confrontation was necessary, Jesus would speak the truth to a person.
We must do the same, but we need to do so lovingly. As Ephesians 4:15 says, "Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church." That is what we do with those we love. We should be discerning, but not condemning. (see here)
Is It Ever Okay to Judge?
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
— 1 Corinthians 6:2
Is there a place for judging? Are we to judge one another, and if so, on what basis? Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7:1–2). The Greek word Jesus used for "judge" means, "to separate, choose, select, or determine." In context, we see that Jesus is dealing primarily with motives. You cannot judge my motives, nor can I judge yours. We may have an evaluation of someone, but we can't see his or her heart.
The better translation of this statement would be, "Condemn not, that you be not condemned." I am to make judgments and evaluations, but I am not to condemn. Some people are hypercritical. They are just looking for people to slip up. They are quick to jump to conclusions. As one of my favorite preachers, the late J. Vernon McGee, said, "The only exercise some Christians get is jumping to conclusions and running down others."
Sometimes we are quick to jump to conclusions and quick to believe the worst instead of the best about someone. Jesus is saying we should not do that. So if someone says to you, "Well, doesn't the Bible say, 'Judge not, that you be not judged'?" your response should be, "Yes, but I don't think you understand the meaning of that statement." The reality is that Christians are to make judgments. A judgment is an evaluation, and we make them every day.
We are not in a position to see a person's heart, and we are not in a position to bring final judgment on someone. Our objective is to never to condemn and put down; it is to help and restore. (see here)
Exposing the ELCA Store
Exposing the ELCA has opened two stores for anyone who may be interested. (see here)
Books and resources are offered at one store including many of the classics, as well as books that deal with the issues people are struggling with in the ELCA.
There is also an Exposing the ELCA Clothing and Merchandise Store. There are many things including shirts, hats and bumper stickers that can hopefully help draw people to the information at Exposing the ELCA and away from the false teachings and religion of the ELCA. I am expecting Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson to do most of his Christmas shopping here. :)
Exposing the ELCA readers were asked this question:
“Do you approve of the ELCA effort to remove male gender language for God?”
Here are the results of this poll:
Yes - 14.21% (51 votes)
No - 85.79% (308 votes)
Total Votes - 359
Martin Luther on Scripture
"The great difference between doctrine and life is obvious, even as the difference between heaven and earth. Life may be unclean, sinful, and inconsistent; but doctrine must be pure, holy, sound, unchanging ... not a tittle or letter may be omitted, however much life may fail to meet the requirements of doctrine. This is so because doctrine is God's Word, and God's truth alone, whereas life is partly our own doing.... God will have patience with man's moral failings and imperfections and forgive them. But He cannot, will not, and shall not tolerate a man's altering or abolishing doctrine itself. For doctrine involves His exalted, divine Majesty itself." - Martin Luther (WA, 30 111, 343 f.)
Read more quotes from Luther here.
ELCA Yearly Membership Numbers
For those that haven’t seen the ELCA membership records over the last 20+ years, here they are - link.
I don’t know how accurate these records are (I suspect 2009 had more members leaving then they record.) But despite that, the membership records do not paint a very good picture of the state of our denomination.
According to the ELCA, from 1987 to 2009 they have lost over 700,000 members (wait till 2010 figures come in.)
Here are a few reasons why.
The ELCA has stopped preaching the law and the gospel. Because of this, people don’t see their need for Jesus. Add to that, the ELCA preaching that “everyone is saved.” This false teaching does not draw anyone to Christ or His church. The ELCA offers nothing that the Unitarian church doesn’t already have.
The silver-lining? Fewer ELCA members supporting and listening to the false teachings.
Statement By Zion Lutheran Church
Earlier this week we reported on actions by ELCA Bishop Steven L. Ullestad of the Northeastern Iowa Synod against two ELCA pastors at Zion Lutheran Church in Clear Lake, IA. (read here) Today Zion Lutheran Church released a statement addressing the overall issues Zion has with the ELCA. Below is the statement:
We are making contact with the media only reluctantly in order to provide a full perspective on the issue involving our church, about which so many in North Iowa (and beyond) have been reading and hearing. Zion Lutheran’s Council has had an agreement with Bishop Steven Ullestad to not involve the media in our disagreement. However, much to our chagrin, that agreement has been violated by the Bishop in his recent statement to the Globe Gazette and interview with KIMT.
There are several reasons why our congregation’s affiliation with the ELCA has been called into question. These reasons include but are not limited to, Biblical authority, major medical coverage of abortions, and universal salvation. Then in August of 2009 the National Assembly of the ELCA made a decision we feel we cannot live with. Allowing homosexuals in active sexual relationships to be pastors in our denomination is not Biblical and not in agreement with the Lutheran Confessions. In light of these, we proclaim that it would be against our constitution to stay with the ELCA. It would be a violation of our faith statement (Chapter 2) and our purpose as a congregation (Chapter 3). We have not changed our teaching, practices, or our policies. We have not changed our commitment to the authority of God’s Word and the standard of the Lutheran Confessions. The ELCA, however, has changed dramatically and violated its own constitutional faith-statement. Our position is not expressed with any disrespect or enmity towards anyone. All we really want to do is to be found faithful to our God and his Word, the Bible. Because of our stand and our belief that the ELCA’s position is intractable, we wish to leave the ELCA and join another Lutheran church body holding a more Biblical stance.
We have had four votes for that purpose and all have shown that an overwhelming majority of our partners also want to dissolve the relationship with the ELCA. We have made every effort to follow our own constitution’s exit procedure. We have been very flexible in trying to do what the ELCA itself has said about the details of the process. Because 237 partners requested to continue the voting process, we are having one more vote to confirm our exit. Nothing in our own constitution forbids us from doing this. We have sought legal counsel in this matter and have been assured that it is not illegal or unconstitutional for us to even take multiple votes to leave within one calendar year.
Zion does not seek to impose our beliefs and practices upon anyone. Zion has always welcomed all people who seek God’s will for their lives as expressed in the Bible. We do not oppose or seek to persecute the ELCA or any others who want to follow different teachings or beliefs. We do not oppose their freedom to follow their conscience. We only ask for the same freedom to follow our own conscience and then go the direction God is calling us to go.
We are not alone in this conflict. Hundreds of Lutheran congregations are in the process of leaving and thousands more are considering leaving. Zion Lutheran Church stands with these congregations in their determination to remain faithful.
(Update: Thanks to the wonders of the internet the Dig Deeper section of the ELCA's webpage, that they remove, has been saved for all to see. Here is the main page in their Dig Deeper section - https://web.archive.org/web/20101030072822/http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/New-or-Returning-to-Church/Dig-Deeper.aspx
And here is a blog detailing some very troubling claims and teachings that the ELCA's Dig Deeper section revealed - http://www.exposingtheelca.com/exposed-blog/read-the-elca-articles-that-caused-a-huge-uproar )
Christian traditional orthodox teaching saw a victory this week. It was a victory for God’s Truth. This week the ELCA removed a section of their website that preached heresy. The website section which boldly proclaimed that "everyone would be saved" (a heretical belief), that questioned the virgin birth, that questioned whether Jesus really rose from the dead and that questioned the truth of God’s account of creation, was removed. The ELCA changed the main page in that section to state:
“The Dig Deeper section of ELCA.org was created to invite fresh explorations of Christian faith for people new or returning to church life. The pages in this section have been removed while they undergo a comprehensive review to improve their usefulness as a resource for study and discussion with others.
If you have suggestions for improvements or new topics in the Dig Deeper section, send them to email@example.com.” (read here)
Why did the ELCA take this action? Maybe ELCA leadership has responded to God’s call to them to come back to His Truth. I truly hope so. If that is the case, I call on Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson to make a public statement renouncing the heretical teachings and beliefs on those pages. Then the ELCA needs to take actions to eliminate those non-orthodox beliefs from the denomination. It is not enough to simply remove a few heretical statements on their webpage.
The more likely interpretation of the pages’ removal, in my opinion, is that the ELCA leadership buckled to pressure because of the uproar over these website statements from concerned members and went into hiding, at least on the surface (on their website). The ELCA is trying to stop the bleeding of orthodox Lutherans leaving the denomination. They are okay with laying low and not making the widely publicized anti-Biblical statements and beliefs in the hope that membership may stay.
The truth is, unless God has intervened, ELCA leadership and many ELCA pastors will continue speaking these heresies. They will still be teaching them in the seminaries and colleges. They will still be proposing and voting on Bible-denying policies. Likewise, they will keep those non-Christian policies they have already enacted. They will continue to preach the social gospel over the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They will still refrain from evangelizing to the “lost.”
This was a victory. I am thrilled that orthodox Christians spoke up! And now it is a little harder for the ELCA to mislead seekers and followers of Jesus who are reading the ELCA website.
Friday, November 5 an article by globegazette.com stated two Clear Lake, Iowa ELCA pastors at Zion Lutheran Church have been suspended by Bishop Steven L. Ullestad of the Northeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). (read here)
In a weekly publication, Zmail, from Zion Lutheran, they address this issue:
“About a month ago the Bishop wrote a letter to our pastors declaring that Zion was a "schismatic" congregation and that ELCA policy did not allow ELCA pastors to serve such congregations. He threatened two alternatives for our pastors. They could either resign their calls to Zion or they would be removed from the ELCA clergy roster (that is, they would be kicked out of the ELCA).
The pastors responded to this letter observing that the ELCA had taken no official action to declare what was "schismatic" and so Zion could hardly be branded with such a designation. In addition there is no consistent policy in regard to "schismatic" congregations in the ELCA. The synods have different policies that they follow both in regard to congregations and pastors. Thus the Bishop was acting on his own individual opinion not a comprehensive ELCA policy.
Through all of this no action has been taken to our knowledge (we have not been informed of any action) in regard to Zion's status as a congregation in the ELCA. Therefore the pastors declared that they had been duly called to serve Zion and had faithfully done so for many years and intended to continue in that service. They would not resign their calls to Zion. In addition, they would not remove their names from the ELCA clergy roster as long as Zion remained on the ELCA roster of congregations (Again, there has been no change in Zion's roster status with the ELCA to our knowledge).
Last week the Bishop sent letters to our pastors informing them that since they did not resign their calls to Zion they were removed from the ELCA clergy roster (i.e., they had been kicked out of the ELCA) because they continued to serve a "schismatic" congregation. This sets up the absurd situation that our pastors have been kicked out of the ELCA for serving a congregation that is still on the ELCA roster of congregations. The absurdity is further compounded by the fact that from the view point of the ELCA, Zion is now without pastors, but no ELCA pastor supposedly could ever take a call here.
Ironically, this means that Zion is a part of the Northeastern Iowa Synod which our Bishop serves, and so he is obligated to also serve Zion. But since he has declared Zion a "schismatic" congregation his continued service to Zion means that his name should be removed from the ELCA clergy roster for precisely the same reasons he removed Pastor Hess and Pastor Yarian.
All of this is an illustration of the ridiculous machinations that are going on within the ELCA. Bishops and national officers are making up policies on the fly to suit their own personal agendas. These policies reflect no official action by the ELCA, and are internally inconsistent. It is one more example of the sad state of the ELCA.
These actions in no way affect the status of our pastors in regard to neither Zion, nor their calls to serve here and before God. Our pastors will be applying for rostered status with LCMC and will continue the faithful ministry they have carried out here at Zion for many years.” (see here)
Zion Lutheran Church has a vote scheduled Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 6 p.m. (CST) to decide whether the church should leave the ELCA.
Btw, this isn't the first "issue" Bishop Ullestad has had with a pastor who disagreed with the ELCA - see "Is the ELCA Trying to Silence Pastors' 'Bound Conscience?'"
Exposing the ELCA has highlighted Ebenezer Lutheran Church/“her church” in San Francisco in the past (read here on page 6 and here). This ELCA church is famous for goddess worship, praying the goddess rosary, praying to “Sophia” and “Mother,” as well as the use of female pronouns for the god they worship. The ELCA has taken no action to stop these practices/beliefs. We could only conclude that goddess worship is an acceptable practice in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Now we have an actual statement from ELCA leadership about the teachings of this San Francisco Lutheran Church. Bishop Michael Burk of ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod spoke with Ebenezer Lutheran Church’s Bishop from the Sierra Pacific Synod (in August 2010). Bishop Burk had questions about reports he had heard of non-orthodox practices happening at the church. Here is his account of that conversation,
“After visiting with the bishop and with another synod staff member who knows the congregation and the pastor well, there is an acknowledgement that this congregation ‘pushes around the edges’ on matters that make some of us uncomfortable. Things like what they refer to this ‘rosary’ are seen by many to be outside the bounds, but don't rise to level of anything in the disciplinary arena. Speaking explicitly about the pastor and regular worship experience there, when folks have ‘dropped in unannounced’ they have experienced preaching that is decidedly within Lutheran orthodoxy and worship that is familiar and done with integrity. It was said that this small congregation is serving the local community very well, especially when it comes to reaching out to the local community.” (read here, go to comment 6)
We have now learned that Ebenezer Lutheran Church is offering women an interesting “spiritual retreat.” The church website says,
“Celebrate ‘She Who Is’
Encounter the Divine Feminine
with body, mind and spirit”
At this spiritual retreat you will experience -
“Sacred Re-imaging, rituals and work(play)shops, sacred sounds, altar building, meditation with the Cosmic Mother, Christian Feminist stories, beach walks, free time and relaxing with beauty that is around, among and within!”
The experience will include presentations on -
“God/dess Around Us
Language of the Goddess – Pr. Boorn (ELCA pastor)
God/dess Within Us
Connecting with God/dess – J. Dancer
God/dess Beyond Us
Spirit Shrines – Linda Roberts”
The Retreat gets even more interesting unfortunately. Ebenezer Lutheran Church’s website tells an attendee’s retreat experience where we read,
“Pastor Stacy reminded us of some of the discounted feminine images of God in the Old Testament—probably none of which were the products of female imaginations—and invited us to form our own images in clay of Asherah, the mother goddess of the Canaanites familiar to early Jewish inhabitants of Canaan. I am no artist. Warming and working the clay with my hands, I wondered whether my goddess would look anything like the photograph of an Asherah figure Stacy provided as a possible starting point . . .”
“The next project, led by Kathryn Wagner, was to make a mandala, a circular, meditative image of the self . . .”
“On the shore of Monterey Bay, on Saturday night and Sunday morning, all ten of us prayed the Goddess rosary [some beaded their own Goddess Rosary that afternoon] beside a cross erected of driftwood and draped with seaweed. Stacy called us to remember the sea as the primal water from which life emerged, to think of it as the amniotic fluid of our mother's wombs . . .” (Read here)
One could write five articles on the non-orthodox, troubling, and heretical statements written about this "spiritual retreat." But we will just focus on "Asherah."
The image of Asherah, that ELCA pastor Stacy Boorn had the women on the retreat make, is a false god. As was mentioned above, Asherah is "the mother goddess of the Canaanites" that God continually told the Israelites to stay away from. Scripture speaks of Asherah and Asherah poles extensively and none of it is positive. Here is one verse (see more verses at end of this article) -
Deuteronomy 12:3 - Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.
I would be interested in hearing from ELCA headquarters and the synod bishops as to whether this new documented information of "herchurch" making idols of a false god (one the Bible specifically mentions and which is forbidden in scripture) is still considered acceptable practices for ELCA members. As you can read in the Bible verses below, it is not acceptable to God.
If making idols and the worship of false gods does not warrant expulsion, I don’t know what does. ELCA inaction here = acceptance/approval.
More of what God’s Word says about Asherah/Asherah poles -
Judges 3:7 - The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.
1 Kings 14:15 - And the LORD will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their ancestors and scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they aroused the LORD’s anger by making Asherah poles.
1 Kings 16:33 - Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.
2 Kings 17:16 - They forsook all the commands of the LORD their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal.
Deuteronomy 7:5 - This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.
ELCA Professor Ralph W. Klein is Christ Seminary-Seminex professor of Old Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. (see here)
In an essay called “Reading the Bible as Lutherans in the Twenty-First Century” (read entire essay here) Professor Klein shares with us some of his views on Scripture. He says,
“Our liturgical customs send out uncertain and potentially misleading affirmations about this “Word of God.” When we say at the end of the first or second readings, ‘The Word of the Lord,’ we are stating at best an incomplete truth. For these words just read, however much guided by the Spirit, are also written or spoken by finite men and women, children of their times, with their own limits, presuppositions and even biases, and they addressed the people and the questions of their own times.”
“. . . much of the Bible could be described as (very helpful) words about God rather than ‘the Word of God.’’’
“The affirmation of the gospel, which our predecessors referred to as the material principle, is finally what gives the Scriptures their authority.”
“The canon itself, finally, is not nearly so important for us Lutherans, as what many of the canonical books contain.” (Canon is defined as “the books of the Bible.”)
“As I read various Lutheran essays in preparation for this address, I was often struck by how clear the essays were about the central, gospel-based authority of Scripture and how ambiguous they were when talking about the Bible’s authority on other matters . . .”
“Part of a Lutheran approach to hermeneutics that locates the authority of the Scriptures in their central saving message means that at times we must accept the possibility that a position taken by a biblical writer is wrong or unhelpful.”
Professor Klein doesn’t seem to think God was involved in the writing of the Bible. Scripture says,
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” - 1 Corinthians 2:13
You choose who you want to believe.
When you read Professor Klein’s essay, keep an eye out for the following: feminine language for God - liberation theology - placing the world’s values over Scripture - dismissing Biblical statements on homosexuality based on his “Twenty-First Century” reading of Scripture/his own opinions.
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