Professors at Wartburg Theological Seminary (ELCA) are known to promote and teach universalism. Dr. Duane Priebe, Professor of Systematic Theology at Wartburg wrote this in the first printing of the Augsburg Fortress Lutheran Study Bible, “Jesus includes in salvation people who do not believe in him or ever know about him (5:3-10; 25:31-45).” page 1658. Wartburg professor Dr. David J. Lull, Professor of New Testament, published an article where he said, "Jesus did not have to die as a condition of God’s forgiveness of sins. Mark knew that Jesus knew that God had always forgiven the sins of 'many/all,' and that God would keep on forgiving their sins." (see here)
Today we will look at and quote from a sermon given at Wartburg Theological Seminary, in the chapel, by Rev. Dr. Craig Nessan. Dr. Nessan is the Academic Dean and Professor of Contextual Theology at the ELCA seminary.
On February 27, 2013, during Dr. Nessan's sermon, he went into a strange diatribe on salvation, saying that some people think they know who will be saved. At one point Dr. Nessan, in my view, seemed to be mocking God with a number of statements including this, “God knows who deserves to live and who deserves to die.” This was Dr. Nessan's way of setting up his view of salvation for those listening (future ELCA pastors).
The scripture readings for Dr. Nessan's sermon came from Luke 13:22-31 and 2 Chronicles 20:1-20, to which he called the later “texts of terror.” Luke 13:29 says, “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” From this verse Dr. Nessan switches to the 2 Chronicles passage concerning the country of Judah and tells the students that the people to the east, west, north and south are the Ammonites, Philistines, Syrians, and Moabites. This was another step in Dr. Nessan's leading his listeners in his universalist way of thinking, by associating these peoples, who worship false-gods, with those who would inherit salvation.
Completing his plan, teaching and leading the seminarians toward universalism, Dr. Nessan refers to Luke 13:24 where Jesus says, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door . . .” and Dr. Nessan concludes, “It makes me wonder, what is the shape of that narrow door? Who gets in if the narrow door is shaped like the cross? Who gets in if its shaped like the 'loaf?' Who gets in if its shaped like the 'cup?' Who gets in when it is given and shed for you, to the east? And given and shed for you to the west? And given and shed for you to the north and to you to the south? Given and shed for all for the forgiveness of sins?” (listen here)
Dr. Nessan failed to proclaim and uphold God's Truth revealed in Scripture. He taught heresy to future pastors and untold lives will be adversely affected because of this. God clearly tells us his plan for salvation and how one is saved. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.” John 1:12 tells us, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (Also see Romans 10:9-10, Romans 3:21, John 8:24.) God tells us we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and it is not Dr. Nessan's dangerous false-doctrine of universalism.
After hearing the sermon, one seminarian on Facebook said, “Chapel at WTS messed me all up today. I think that is a good thing.” Responding to the seminarian's comment, an ELCA pastor said tellingly, "Jesus Christ is present in . . . religions."
Bible-believing Lutherans were upset a few years ago when they learned of numerous heretical and unorthodox articles from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. They were posted on the ELCA's official website under a section meant to explain the ELCA's beliefs and teachings, called “Dig Deeper.” The ELCA leadership took a great deal of well deserved heat for what the articles said and even though they never repudiated the articles or the teaching, with no apology, they removed them from elca.org.
Now with the help of a website which archives old web pages you can view the articles as they looked in 2009.
The ELCA took down these teaching webpages, but Exposing the ELCA has extensive evidence which shows that the ELCA leadership continues to believe, teach and allow these same heretical beliefs.
The other day, on my personal facebook page I wrote a message of praise to God because a church, that is near to where I grew up, voted to leave the ELCA. A facebook “friend” who it seems is an ELCA supporter, responded to my comment saying, "Sounds like you are praising the Devil, not God.” I challenged his comment and he responded by “unfriending” me.
This kind of thing is not uncommon. I regularly received comments and emails from ELCA supporters who do not like me or Exposing the ELCA. Here are a few examples that I have gotten in the last few weeks -
One person responded to my blog about using Ouija boards at an ELCA college (see here) said, “Dont point to the spec in your neighbors eye when there is a log in your own.” Another person said, “If you've left the ELCA, stop worrying about them. It is not your job to judge, it is God's. Worry about your own business. As a Christian, and a graduate of Concordia College, I am embarrassed for you. And may I just add that the 'devil worshiping, doors of hell opening' haunted house at Concordia was probably a great time, I wish I could have attended.” That same person also wrote, “Are you guys serious? Do you not have anything better to do with you time other than come up with reasons why the ELCA is a sinful organization? I think you're missing the whole point of the gospel. God loves the world. Done. End of story. Get over yourselves.”
It’s obvious that most of the ELCA supporters who write to me do not know Scripture. These people make God in their own image, the way they want Him to be, which means the god they say they know, follow or worship is a false god. That brings me to this next ELCA supporter:
I’ve been receiving long messages from someone who is very supportive of the ELCA’s acceptance of goddess worship. (don’t believe me about the ELCA’s involvement and acceptance of goddess worship? See here) Check out a few of the things this person has sent Exposing the ELCA -
“Indeed, *herchurch* represents a denomination that God the Father *does* want to see being supported!
“You chose to believe your false interpretations of words in a book, edited & canonized by corrupt men with their own political-religious agenda of *controlling* the minds & beliefs of others. You chose this rather than actually pure-heartedly *seeking* Her Holy Spirit in your lives, to teach you "all things".”
“Praise Goddess that Her Spirit is so *alive* into this time! And *thank you* Heavenly Father for deciding that this is *Her* Time to come forth into history in the *Fullness* of Her Spirit, & that so many of us are privileged to be *alive* at this time to witness the beginnings of Your Further Revelations *as* Her.”
Not knowing, believing or following Scripture makes one susceptible to many things, including goddess worship.
Alfred Hoerig is the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, a new ELCA mission congregation in Texas.
In the ELCA magazine, The Lutheran, we read this from an interview Pastor Hoerig had with the magazine, “Grace could emerge as a model of the ELCA church of the future, with its diversity and openness to letting people make up their own minds about their beliefs, he added.”
“(L)etting people make up their own minds about their beliefs” sounds like something a Unitarian Universalist would say, and here we have this ELCA magazine publishing this disturbing statement, a statement many members of the denomination will read. Followers of Christ are not made by telling people to “believe anything they want to believe, it doesn’t matter to God.”
Elsewhere in the article Pastor Hoerig is quoted saying, "The [new] congregation is made up of people who've been ostracized or alienated from other congregations, and people who've been burned by overzealous Christians and judgmental people who've said unkind things or insisted that [Grace members] live a certain way in order to be members of the church." (The Lutheran no longer has the entire article available to read on the internet. Here is the beginning of the article.)
This is the typical line and sentiment from the pro-ELCA, edit-the-Bible-to-say-what-I-want-it-to-say crowd. They love to label those who believe homosexuality is a sin, based on Scriptural evidence, as not “welcoming” and “judgmental.” Their definition of "welcoming" is "endorsing the homosexual lifestyle." The truth is Christian churches welcome sinners, they do not (should not) endorse sin. Satan has deceived the ELCA leadership and supporters. True love helps people out of sin and certainly does not encourage them to fully engage it. That is what Satan wants. Sadly, many in the ELCA are working with the devil.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has immersed itself, and promoted involvement of its members, in interfaith relations. A search of “interfaith” on elca.org confirms this. (see here) But when you look at all the interfaith work the ELCA is so heavily involved with, very little is about sharing the Good News of what Christ has done and the gift of eternal life that is available for those that believe. That is a huge problem and ELCA members should be asking themselves why this is so.
The ELCA’s May/June 2011 edition of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics focuses on helping to “inform and inspire encounters with our multi-religious neighbors.” In one article the Journal’s Associate Editor, Victor Thasiah, tells of one of his experiences. “Shortly after getting to know some young Muslim men from Malindi while traveling in Kenya in 2009, they invited me to join them for prayer — to observe and participate as I wished. Outside of the mosque, after removing my shoes, they welcomed me to wash my hands, feet, face, ears, and mouth — to purify myself from the evil I had thought, done, seen, heard, and spoken. On my knees . . .I cupped water with my hands to cover my ears. . .” The story ends with Victor saying, “I can say that one day in Nairobi I was baptized by a Muslim.” (read here)
In 2010 during an ELCA “Sharing the Gospel” event, the conference welcomed Muslim and Buddhist prayers and those in attendance were invited to participate with them if they wished. (read here)
The ELCA failing to tell people of other religions about salvation in Christ for those that believe is bad enough. But as the examples above show the ELCA seems to be moving toward the acceptance of prayers and worship to gods other than the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (see here and here for more examples)
What is going on in our denomination? Would Jesus participate in a prayer and cutting ceremony with the prophets of Baal? In Scripture God told His people to remove the temples and alters of other gods in the land of Israel, not to worship with these false religions. Solomon’s sin was that he worshipped the false gods of his wives. Yet the ELCA invites this.
When you combine the universalism teaching that is going on in the ELCA (teaching that all people will go to heaven - see more here) with the “Interfaithism” preached by this denomination, it is easy to see why the ELCA is not actively sharing the good news of forgiveness of sin and salvation in Christ for those that believe. (John 3:16) It is also easy to see how the ELCA will fall in line, lock, stock and barrel, with the end times one world government that the Bible talks about.
Pray that the ELCA repents of its ways.
The Bible teaches that we need to believe in Christ. John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
The teaching of universalism, in essence, says that everyone will go to heaven no matter what they do, think, believe or worship. This is not Biblical and it is very dangerous. People will go to hell because they believe in universalism and not Christ. Yet here is a Luther Seminary (ELCA) professor arguing the merits of universalism and encouraging the preaching of this heresy.
“The Rob Bell Controversy: Does Anyone Go To Hell?“ by David Lose, Director, Center for Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary. (read here)
For more information on the ELCA’s support and teaching of universalism/ universal salvation see here.
ELCA affiliated Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, is hosting a lecture on Jan. 13, 2011, by Dr. Peter Ochs. Dr. Ochs is a “(p)rofessor of modern Judaic studies at the University of Virginia and founder of a revolutionary approach to reading scripture . . .” (read here)
Dr. Ochs will lecture about “scriptural reasoning” and will have a demonstration of how it is done. “Scriptural reasoning is a way of studying scripture with people from different faith traditions.” This includes studying the Qur’an with Muslims.
The press release put out by Augustana College says, “Ochs' lecture will show students and community members the importance of scriptural reasoning for peace and understanding between traditions. ‘Divine voice(s) are not heard deeply without learning and effort — and, we add, without listening to those who hear in ways that are slightly different,’ he said.” (read here)
You may want to read the above quote again. Augustana is bring Dr. Ochs in to their college to “show students and community members” this method where “Divine voices” are heard in other faiths.
This is another example of an ELCA-related entity that is introducing false doctrine. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the one true God. They are not the god of the Muslims or any other religion. (read more about this here)
Rev. Tim Singleton is a ELCA pastor at New Horizons Lutheran Church in Falcon, CO. You may remember him from an previous article on Exposing the ELCA. (see here)
Rev. Singleton calls himself a Trinitarian Universalist. In a recent blog he explained, in detail, his thoughts on salvation. He said,
"I am convinced. . . that the Spirit of Christ is present within all compassionate faiths.
A rose by any other name is still a rose; and Christ by any other name is still Christ. Christians say Christ, Buddhists say Buddha, Hindus say Krishna, and so on — different names for the same Spiritual Reality revealed through different languages and cultures. Furthermore, God by any other name is still God. Jews say Hashem (Yahweh), Christians say Trinity, Muslims say Allah, Buddhists say Nirvana, Hindus say Brahma, Native Americans say Great Spirit, and Boy Scouts say Great Scout Master. These are different ways of addressing the Ultimate One, articulated through different languages and cultures — but God is God nonetheless." (read more of his blog here)
Rev. Singleton words are strikingly similar to comments made by ELCA Bishop Robert Rimbo of the Metropolitan New York Synod. He recently said, "We commend ourselves to the reliable and merciful arms of the God of Abraham, the God whom Jesus calls Abba, the God whom Muslims and Christians in various parts of the world call Allah. This God promises a reign in which all shall be well." (read here)
Rev. Singleton and Bishop Rimbo's opinion here is not Biblical. God clearly shows in Scripture that He is not the god of other religions. I Kings 18:21 says, "Elijah went before the people and said, 'How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.'" If you keep reading this chapter in I Kings you will find out that Elijah, the prophet of God, had the prophets of Baal killed. That is not an action a "god of all religions, just called by different names" would take.
II Kings 17: 35-39 says, "When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: 'Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. You must always be careful to keep the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.'"
God clearly tells us in His Scripture that He alone is to be worshipped (see Exodus 20:2-3). For the ELCA to allow and Rev. Singleton to say that the Father/Son/Holy Spirit is the same as the gods of other religions is heresy!
The ELCA is putting the souls of billions of people at risk by teaching and encouraging universalism.
Read more about Universalism in the ELCA
(Todays "Exposed Blog" is written by a pastor from Michigan.)
An ELCA news release today highlights the August 30th "Public Statement on the Islamic Center Proposal" by Bishop Robert Rimbo of the Metropolitan New York Synod. In his concluding comments, Bishop Rimbo states: "We commend ourselves to the reliable and merciful arms of the God of Abraham, the God whom Jesus calls Abba, the God whom Muslims and Christians in various parts of the world call Allah. THIS GOD (my capitals) promises a reign in which all shall be well."
Am I understanding correctly that the learned bishop is referring here to God almighty revealed in the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, as the God of many names, including Allah? Or perhaps, a public acknowledgment of many paths to God. It appears so, at least to me, since the bishop says THIS GOD PROMISES A REIGN...(all singular).
Isn't this yet another example of the "big tent" ELCA which bends over backward to avoid or distort the biblical name of God for the sake of secular tolerance and "political correctness?"
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently held an event called "Sharing the Gospel in a 2.0 World." On day three of the conference Muslim and Buddhist prayers were giving at the invitation of the ELCA.
Two students who were with a group called Interfaith Youth Core, and whose Muslim founder and executive director Eboo Patel (read here) was a keynote speaker for the "Sharing the Gospel" event, gave the Muslim and Buddhist prayers.
Sue Rothmeyer, ELCA Associate Executive Director for Youth and Young Adult Ministries said, "out of hospitality we offered these students the opportunity to pray." Rothmeyer went on to say, "we carefully stated to (the assembly) it was out of the student's tradition and we invited everyone to listen and participate as they felt comfortable."
A conference attendee said of the prayers, "I think everyone in the room thought they were quite beautiful and appreciated people sharing something out of their faith traditions."
I have problems with the inclusiveness gospel the ELCA is preaching and conducting. They sacrifice the Good News for the sake of trying to be accepting, tolerant and understanding. The fact of the matter is, sharing the Good News is the most loving, kind and caring thing they could do. But bringing people to the saving grace of Jesus doesn't matter to these ELCA leaders.
Now they have prayers, to false gods, given at their "Sharing the Gospel" ELCA event. Jesus would NEVER allow that. He would have been filled with holy anger if the prophets of Baal were in the temple leading people in prayers to their god.
Sadly the real Jesus doesn't matter in today's ELCA. Satan has them rejecting the Bible and following his rules. Then the ELCA cloaks everything they do in quasi-christian language and hope you don't notice.
A self described universalist and Christian gnostic (listen here) is freely preaching to and teaching youth in the ELCA. Neil Christopher is an ELCA youth pastor at Rejoice Lutheran Church (ELCA) of Frisco, TX. (see here)
While speaking on a podcast Pastor Christopher said,
" . . . We believe in the fact that salvation is grace and grace alone and that it's freely given, and that it's given to
all . . . whether they accept that grace or not, or like whether they have even heard the message or not, or full on reject it. So we don't do altar calls and we don't tell people that they are going to go to hell, and we don't have any kind of teaching that is based on guilt or shame or any of that."
"Right now I am a ELCA youth minister and I am very very happy with the Evangelical Lutherans," says Pastor Christopher. When speaking of his future, Pastor Christopher said, ". . . I could actually, at one point be very responsible for what a whole generation of new Lutherans are going to be learning. . . so maybe the next 20 to 50 years of Lutherans are going to be basically being brought up in the kind of way we carve it up to be at this moment. And that's amazing." (listen here - 31 min. mark to 34 - note: foul language used)
Pastor Christopher, on his own website, tells us a story of that happened during one of his junior high mission trips. He says, "(t)here were also some references over the week to a born-again salvation experience and I had to take time to explain to my kids, who have only been exposed to Universalism, what the heck was going on. This also led to one of my favorite moments on the mission trip…
Part of the reason why we chose a missions trip where we give back to a community and work was because of our theology. Like I said before: 'We are not here to convert anybody; we are simply here to include them into our lives.' However, others from different denominations saw things differently, and especially after one certain event my kids asked me what was going on with this whole salvation, hell, born-again thing.
I took a moment to think my response over and then simply asked them two questions:
1. Who are God’s children?
2. When Christ died, who did He save?
To the first question my kids said 'everyone'. To the second question my kids said 'everyone.'
I smiled, and was so proud of them at that moment, and so proud that they had been brought up in a church that was so entirely different than the ones I was exposed to as a youth.
I then explained to them that not all churches or Christians feel the same way they do about this matter. My kids looked confused at this 'new theology' and said it was crazy. 'Do they not read the Bible?' 'Where do they even get this kind of stuff?' 'Wait a minute! Do they actually think our God is going to send His children to hell?!'
Like I said — one of the proudest moments of my life."
This teaching is wrong and it puts people's eternal destination at risk of going to hell. It also stops people from sharing the "good news" of Jesus with others, because in the universalist's mind, "everyone is going to heaven anyway." Not sharing the truth of Christ with people condemns them to eternity in a place no one would want to be.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 -
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the LORD Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our LORD Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the LORD and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America not only allows universal salvation to be taught, but they teach this heresy. The belief of universal salvation is being preached from the official ELCA website, ELCA publications, in many of its churches and by many ELCA pastors. (see here) The ELCA's own words and allowances implicate them. Pastor Neil Christopher is teaching a belief of which the ELCA is very comfortable.
Check out what Lord of the Mountain Lutheran Church (ELCA church located in Dillon, Colorado) has to say on their website,
"LOTM MISSION STATEMENT
In the spirit of the Reformation, Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church continually seeks meaningful ways
of expressing our commitment to the life and teaching of Jesus.
We do this by...
*welcoming all people to full participation in our community of faith.
*Recognizing there are other ways to God than just our way."
If you didn't catch that, Lord of the Mountain's Pastor, Joseph Holub says this on his own website,
"1. I affirm that Jesus Christ is the emergence of God's ongoing gracious presence in the world, and that through Jesus relationship with God is experienced. Jesus is a doorway into the mystery of God." (find here - click on "Joe.")
"Jesus is A doorway." "There are other ways to God."
So the belief that all paths lead to God is OK according to the ELCA? We see the ELCA teaching universal salvation, which has a very similar result. (read here) Allowance of this teaching means acceptance, in my view.
For what it's worth, I also found these statements by Lord of the Mountain's Pastor, noteworthy.
"Since The Enlightenment especially, but even long before that Christianity has been preoccupied with doctrine – faith defined as a set of right beliefs. Christianity is spoiled, grossly distorted and loses its heart when it is turned into a set of correct doctrines that I must accept or else. I mean read the Apostle's Creed. There's nothing much there that really stirs the soul and lights a fire in one's heart. There's nothing there about loving one's neighbor or enemy or anybody else. Doctrines and correct beliefs don’t make disciples but eventually turn us into narrow and intolerant fanatics. Jesus is not a doctrine. He is the expression of compassion and radical inclusive love who invites us to follow him on an adventure called discipleship that just may cost us our lives as we give ourselves away in the pursuit of love, compassion and justice. He calls us beyond the narrow boundaries behind which we protect and isolate ourselves from others. What Jesus asks for is our faith defined as trust and commitment in his way of loving and living. Unfortunately somewhere along the line being Christian came to mean accepting beliefs about Jesus rather than actually following Jesus." (read here, click on "blog" and go about 3/4 down the page to a heading called "The Deficiency of Doctrine.")
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson claims the god of Islam is the same God as Christians and Jews.
Rev. Hanson, in August of 2006 wrote "An Open Letter to Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Leaders" in which he said, "(t)he one God whom we worship is a God not only of judgment, but of mercy and peace." Hanson goes on to say, "(i)t is time for us together to publicly, clearly, and courageously give witness that the One in whom we believe unites us in our diversity rather than divides us in our hostilities."
The god of Islam and the God of Christianity are not the same god. See this article for some reasoning behind why I believe this is so.
This is another example of where the leadership of the ELCA is wrong and leading their membership down a path of disregard for scripture, truth and God Himself.
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