ELCA Assembly Calls on the Denomination to Use “Gender-Inclusive and Expansive” Language for God
(The following article was written by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and Twitter - here.)
At this week's national assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, delegates passed a statement decrying sexism and calling for "gender-inclusive and expansive" language for God. (See here)
The ELCA's hymnbook years ago removed all the masculine pronouns for God in the Psalms and the hymnal contains a hymn "Mothering God, you gave me birth." It appears that the ELCA leadership wants more. One ELCA congregation called Herchurch in California worships the goddess Sophia and uses the prayer "Our Mother who is within us, we celebrate your many names". Herchurch's pastor had a retreat in which (according to its website) “Pastor Stacy... invited us to form our own images in clay of Asherah, the mother goddess of the Canaanites..." to aid them in worshipping the Divine Feminine. If you know your Old Testament, God forbade the ancient Jews from worshipping the false gods Asherah and Baal.
Years ago some ELCA Lutherans in Iowa complained to the Iowa bishop about Herchurch. The Iowa bishop asked the California bishop about the situation. The Iowa bishop then wrote "“After visiting with the bishop (in California) and with another synod staff member... there is an acknowledgement that this congregation ‘pushes around the edges’ on matters that make some of us uncomfortable. Things...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..."
If anyone doubts it is time to leave the ELCA, go to the herchurch.org website and see the idolatry that the ELCA permits. There has never been any discipline of Herchurch by the ELCA bishop. If goddess worship is now within Lutheran orthodoxy and "done with integrity", something has gone very, very wrong in the ELCA.
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Tom Brock
ELCA Goddess Worship: Honoring, Celebrating and Singing a Hymn to Inanna / Ishtar
Goddess worship is and has been occurring in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Ebenezer Lutheran Church, otherwise known as "Herchurch," in San Francisco, has long been known for goddess worship and is a church in good-standing with the ELCA. (See goddess worshiping articles here)
In February 2019, Herchurch held a Sunday worship service that they describe this way (also see below), "we honor and celebrate Sister Wisdom who comes to guide us and Inanna (Ancient Queen of Heaven and Earth). The Liturgy provides a sacred time and space in which the community and individual encounters and responds to the loving, creative, challenging, empowering, prophetic wisdom and word of the divine feminine." At this service they will have an "original Hymn to Inanna" with a "Sacred Dance."
Wikipedia tells us "Inanna is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. She was known as the 'Queen of Heaven'" (See here)
The One True God tells us in His Word:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”
- Exodus 20:2, 3
Why are you part of a denomination that has given its approval to goddess worship?
Last weekend a church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Ebenezer Lutheran Church, (also known as "herchurch") in San Francisco, CA, held their 2018 Goddess Harvest Festival.
At the Goddess Harvest Festival one could take a "Goddess Painting Class." Below is how the ELCA church described the class:
"Join Jennifer and Katie for an afternoon encountering the Divine through painting! This fun, no-talent-required class will guide you from start to finish in creating your own sacred icon of the Divine Feminine. This class we will honor the Goddess of Willendorf, the Neolithic Great Mother." (see here)
The ELCA church's website gives additional information about their monthly "Goddess Painting" class which is captured below. Every month they paint a different goddess. The list is:
January: Cerridwen, Celtic goddess of the cauldron of transformation
February: Wakahiru-Me, Japanese goddess of the morning sun
March: Butterfly Maiden, Native American Spring goddess
April: Hina, Hawaiian Moon goddess
May: Hathor, Ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and beauty
June: Tree Goddess
July: Minoan Snake Goddess
August: Mami Wata, African ocean goddess
September: Arianrhod, Welsh/Celtic goddess of weaving cosmic time
October: Hecate, Greek goddess of the crossroads of life and death
November: *second Sunday of the month* Willendorf, Neolithic Mother goddess
December: Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas" (see here)
Note, herchurch calls this "encountering the Divine through painting."
This is not a Christian activity. In fact, it is in direct opposition to God's First Commandment which says "And God spoke all these words:
'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me.'" - Exodus 20:1-3.
It is hard be believe, but herchurch, which has a long disturbing history (see here) is in good standing with the ELCA. The ELCA is complicit in this evil practice.
Here are some other activities that took place at the Goddess Harvest Festival:
- Spirit Voices Of Light/Totem Animal Allies Mask Making
"Join Deborah...to explore connection with totem animal allies through a Shamanic journeying and mask making process. For this workshop, Deborah will lead participants using the combination of Shamanic journeying with the creation of a mask for each person. Participants will leave at the end of the workshop with a mask pulled from their face. Space is limited to 10 participants."
- Make your own Goddess Totem
"You are invited to make a small goddess figure using polymer clay, which hardens by baking. You will be amazed at how easy it is to create these personal totems to take home! All supplies provided. Take yours home to bake or pick it up Sunday, baked for you."
- Liturgy of the Divine Feminine
"Honoring and raising up the Divine Feminine in the cosmos, community and ourselves. All are welcome.
(ELCA) Pastor Stacy Boorn"
- Tai Chi Chih
"In this easy, gentle movement class, participants will engage in moving meditation to enliven them with the natural flow of energy known as chi. Tai Chi Chih’s 19 movements and one pose promote health, well-being and longevity."
If you are an ELCA member, you should ask yourself why you part of a denomination that allows this.
Rev. Tom Brock shared his thoughts on Facebook about the "Goddess Harvest Festival," which you can read below:
(The following was written by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and twitter - here.)
Ebenezer Lutheran Church, now called Herchurch, is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Herchurch worships God as "the goddess" and "Mother". At its upcoming Goddess Festival, here are some of the workshops:
Mandala making (my note: mandalas are Hindu symbols)
Our Earth Mother, ourselves…
Cleaning out and owning your queer identity: a healing guided meditation with healing priestess
Yoga for ecstasy and healing (see here)
If you are a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and this doesn't get you to leave, I ask you to ask yourself "What would?" ELCA leadership does not discipline this congregation and in the past has defended it.
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Tom Brock
(The following was written by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and twitter - here.)
Herchurch, a feminist congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, worships "the goddess" and God as "Mother". Now the church is bringing in a witch to help congregational members paint a Hindu goddess.
Years ago, the pastor of Herchurch took her women on a retreat and gave them each a piece of clay to make an Asherah statue so they could worship the forbidden "divine feminine." (Asherah was the pagan goddess that Old Testament Jews were forbidden to worship).
When people have complained about this congregation in the past, the ELCA bishop in California defended it. National ELCA headquarters had a speaker at one of Herchurch's events.
This congregation worships pagan images of God, brings in a witch, and remains in full fellowship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America--- no discipline whatsoever.
Check out Herchurch.org. This is perhaps the worst heresy I have seen in the ELCA.
In Jesus our Savior,
Pastor Tom Brock
ELCA Goddess Worshiping Church
Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco, better known as "herchurch," is a goddess worshiping church that is operating in good standing and with the full knowledge of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The ELCA has placed their stamp of approval on the worship of false gods by their knowledgeable allowance of it. Here is what herchurch has been up to lately.
What is better for Christmas than a prayer to the goddess Sophia, posted on their church Facebook page? -
Next month herchurch will be offering an opportunity to partake in the Spring Equinox Women’s Ritual called "Animal Medicine." Herchurch describes this three-hour ritual saying, "In the silence of the quiet mind, we create the sacred fertility in which we receive the messages of Spirit. The Equinox is a time to honor and balance polarities – female/male, dark/light, body/spirit, below/above. Through the Earth and Sky Animal Medicine Spread, each participant will connect with specific aspects of animal spirit guides to interweave her own polarities and create greater balance within, and in the world as a whole." (see here or view screenshot below)
Asking ELCA members to connect with "animal spirit guides" is really an invitation to connect with demonic spirits. Leviticus 19:31 says "You are to consult neither mediums nor familiar spirits. You are never to seek them—you'll just be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God." And God's Word tells us in 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” What are the leaders of this church and the ELCA doing, allowing this kind of evil in the denomination?
How about another prayer? This time to a creepy looking Irish goddess. Here are a couple of excerpts from the herchurch Facebook post:
Finally, herchurch has a list of books on the church website that they offer as "Recommended Reading." Here are a number of them:
Rebirth of the Goddess by Carol P. Christ.
Living in the Lap of the Goddess by Cynthia Eller
She Who Changes, Re-Imagining the Divine in the World by Carol Christ
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess by Leonard Shlain
Mary Magdalene – Beyond the Myth by Esther De Boer
The Creation of Feminist Consciousness by Gerde Lerna
Return of the Great Goddess by Burleigh Muten
The Heart of Christianity by Marcus J. Borg
When God Was A Woman by Merlin Stone
Saving Jesus From Those Who Are Right by Carter Heyward
In Search of the Christa-Sophia by Jann Aldredge-Clanton
This is crazy stuff.
The ELCA's Sierra Pacific Synod was at the ELCA goddess worshiping Ebenezer Lutheran Church (Herchurch) in San Francisco today. They posted three pictures of their time there and included this message -
"Today's worship at Ebenezer/Herchurch was warm and welcoming! A joyful way to start a new week."
The ELCA is plainly and simply an evil denomination. The 1st commandment means nothing to them, the Bible is arbitrary.
The following article was written April 4, 2015 by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook (here) and twitter (here.)
I looked at the upcoming chapel services for April at my alma mater Luther Seminary, a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Some ELCA churches now incorporate "goddess" or "God the Mother" worship (see herchurch.org for some of the worst heresy in the ELCA). But it looks like this kind of thinking is perhaps making its way into the largest (though shrinking) ELCA seminary. Here are two of the chapel services for April listed on Luther Seminary's website:
- Service lead by students in "Sex, Gender, and the Old Testament" Class
- Service lead by students in "Feminist, Womanist, Mujerista Theolasian, And African Women's Theology" Class
As I mentioned in an earlier posting, the ELCA's newest hymnal has de-sexed all of the Psalms to get rid of masculine references for God and includes the hymn "Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth".
May you experience the blessing of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as you celebrate Christ's resurrection tomorrow!
Pastor Tom Brock
The San Francisco Conference of Lutheran Churches, ELCA has a disturbing blog detailing their involvement and participation in non-Christian religious activities.
This conference of ten ELCA parishes along with three affiliated outreach ministries celebrated “Pluralism Summer” last year. Here is how they describe it.
“As we approach the final third of our 'Pluralism Summer,' I’m reminded of how much I still have to learn. Our guests have fed us with such a rich banquet of information, personal stories and experiences: from chanted Baha’i prayers to a Wiccan guided meditation to a Sufi’s reflections on Ramadan – and more.
And there’s still good stuff to come: Sufism Reoriented, Hindu, Secular Humanism, Sikh, as well as a woman extraordinarily ordained as a Roman Catholic priest. At the end of the summer, we’ll go off on a congregational retreat to Mercy Center, where one of their specialties is a program of East/West meditation. We’ll get to spend some time with Fr. Greg Mayers, who is both priest and Zen master.
Some people may see this venture as a slippery slope into relativism, but I would heartily disagree.” (see here)
One of the churches involved also hosted a “goddess craft sale” and "goddess Harvest Festival” last fall. Among the many activities was a workshop conducted by Mz Dionne Kohler, Drumming Priestess. Mz Kohler writes -
“I am guided by Gaia and the rhythms of Our Mother Earth. As the Spirit Moves
you...please join us, Nov. 16th & 17th.”
Another workshop was titled, “Energize, Renew and Uncoil Your Divine-ness with Kundalini Yoga” (see here)
Below are the 10 parishes that are part of the The San Francisco Conference of Lutheran Churches, ELCA
Christ Church Lutheran, ELCA
Pastor Steven P. Sabin
Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran, ELCA
Pastor Stacy Boorn
First United Lutheran, ELCA
Pastor Susan M. Strouse
(Dean, San Francisco Conference of Lutheran Churches)
Pastor Susan’s Blog at http://progressivechurch.wordpress.com/
Grace Lutheran Church, ELCA
Lutheran Church of Our Savior, ELCA
Interim Pastor David Rohrer
St. Francis Lutheran Church, ELCA
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, ELCA
Pastor Elizabeth Ekdale
St. Mary and St. Martha Lutheran Church, ELCA
Pastor: Stacey Siebrasse
St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church of San Francisco, ELCA
Saint Paulus Lutheran Church, ELCA
Pastor Dan Solberg
ELCA 'Star,' Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, Believes and Teaches Wiccan Goddess is Another 'Aspect' of Christian God
ELCA pastor and author Nadia Bolz-Weber is held in high esteem among the leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She is asked to speak at many large denominational gatherings and high-profile ELCA services indicating how she is revered in the denomination. The ELCA's Metropolitan New York Synod posted on Facebook that “Pastor Nadia is the closest thing the ELCA has to a rock star.”
Rev. Bolz-Weber was involved in Wicca before going to an ELCA seminary to become a pastor.
On a Bolz-Weber book publicity tour, Nadia read to the audience from her memoir about this time of her life saying, “I had never stopped believing in God, not really. But I did have to go hang out with His aunt for awhile. She is called the goddess. My first experience with Wicca . . .”
The ELCA 'rock star' goes on -
“The goddess we spoke of never felt to me like a substitute for God but simply another aspect of the divine, like God's aunt or something. When I tell other Christians of my time with the goddess I think they expect me to characterize it as a period in my life when I was misguided and that now thankfully I have come back to both Jesus and my senses. But it's not like that. I can't imagine that the God of the universe is limited to our ideas of God. I can't image that God doesn't reveal Godself in countless ways outside of the simple system of Christianity. And in a way I need a god who is bigger and more nimble and more mysterious than what I could understand or contrive.”
“In fact, I felt guided by god the whole time I sojourned outside of the church. The divine source of my life and my identity perhaps knew that I needed to bask in the female face of god for a good long while outside the church before I could ever return to it whole and able to see the divine feminine in my own traditional.” (see here)
Wicca is a religion of witches, witchcraft and pentagrams. The Christian Bible is not God's Word, according to this idolatrous religion, and they do not worship the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Wiccan deity is completely different from the God of the Bible. Yet the ELCA's “rock star” believes that the goddess worshipped by witches is just another dimension or persona of the God of the Bible. The female side of Him. Christians know Jesus as God's Son, but according to Bolz-Weber, the Wiccan goddess is his close relative. Another aspect of God. Like the fourth member of the Trinity?
This is heresy.
Bolz-Weber is a heretic. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lifts up this pastor as a leading teacher in the denomination. How could they do this? It's easy really; this is an acceptable teaching in the ELCA. The current issue of the official magazine of the ELCA, The Lutheran, states this clearly:
“And sometimes we’d wonder just what God was up to in this religiously plural world. Perhaps — here’s a specifically Christian way of putting it — our learning from our neighbors of other faiths might just be giving us glimpses into dimensions of Christ’s lordship, and the saving activity of God the Trinity, that we hadn’t been expecting.” (read here)
Read more about the life and teachings of ELCA pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber (click here and scroll down).
ELCA News and Notes
Inez Torres Davis, the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (WELCA) Director for Justice, is a regular writer for WELCA's website. She made this statement in her latest contribution to that website:
“I pray to discover Sofia’s guidance so that I may identify and then take actions that carry God’s promises.” (see here)
I don't know how Inez Davis defines “Sofia,” whether it is some gnostic, feminist feminizing of God or if it is the pagan deity. But neither is right and it should be rejected by Bible-believing Christians.
The ELCA's North Carolina Synod had this announcement in their latest e-newsletter:
LGBT Couples Retreat--Saturday, May 11
This is the ELCA. And Bible-believing members are having it forced upon them.
The ELCA's Southwest California Synod recently wrote this on their Facebook page:
The ELCA 1991 Social Statement on the Death Penalty declared “we oppose the death penalty.” (see here)
The ELCA's Rocky Mountain Synod is publicly advocating the repeal of the death penalty. Their March e-newsletter said this:
Abolition Sunday - Focusing on Repealing the Death Penalty
So the ELCA believes the Bible is supportive of homosexual relations and abortions but is against the death penalty? They must be living in a Bizzaro World where right is wrong, up is down and wisdom is foolishness.
People scoff when conservative Lutherans point to goddess worship happening in the ELCA. The scoffers either do not believe it or think it is very isolated. They are wrong. (see here)
Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney is Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, an ELCA Seminary. She is an ordained Episcopal priest who teaches the future leaders and pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (see her school bio here) In a Dr. Gafney blog dated February 11, 2013 the seminary professor compiled some questions she would like to ask the prophet Elijah. She said:
“When you killed the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal but not the four hundred prophets of Asherah was it because you really didn’t mind a little goddess worship on the side? Are we feminists right in saying that Asherah was just the Canaanite articulation of the Holy Spirit and not really another God?” (see here)
First, Dr. Gafney doesn't know if the prophets of Asherah were spared by Elijah that day or if they were even present at the referred to gathering. We do know that 1 Kings 19:1 says Elijah “had killed all the prophets with the sword.” So it seems more likely that they were killed with the prophets of Baal if they were there.
Secondly, and the reason for my blog, did you hear professor Gafney reveal that she believes: Asherah is the Holy Spirit, not another god? This is completely false. Yet that is what she publicly proclaims. I can not believe the ELCA would allow a professor who thinks this way to teach their future leaders.
The Bible says this about Asherah:
So, if it's wrong (and it is) why isn't the ELCA leadership stopping it and why are they letting people who believe it be instructors in their seminaries?
Imagine driving down the road and passing by a beautiful old Christian church. Now imagine that church has a huge painting of a bare breasted women/goddess on it for all to see. Not only that, the mural also includes an eight armed goddess named Kali. Kali is a Hindu goddess. Hard to conceive of, but that is what you will find beginning this November if you drive passed the ELCA's Ebenezer Lutheran Church (also know as herchurch) in San Francisco, CA. The church plans on placing this mural on their church tower for everyone to see.
The ELCA church's website tells us about the mural saying,
“The Goddess mural will rise 64 feet high with four basic symbolic representations of the divine feminine: The Earth Mother, the Black Madonna, the Christ-Sophia, and an androgynous Kali-Kundalini figure whose chakras merge with the phases of the moon and the universe. They will be surrounded by colorful and playful animals, birds, plants and earth’s elements.” (see here)
Here is a link that shows what the mural will look like (on the left hand side of the page).
A fundraising page for herchurch's project has this to say about the mural, “Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran (herchurch) refers to the Divine Presence through many names and metaphors. More than 50,000 years ago the sacred one was called mother. Breaking recent tradtion from male diety, this mural aims to herald the return of the feminine divine in modern Christian, interfaith and feminist spirituality.” (see here)
Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran has been worshiping pagan gods for quite a while now, with the full knowledge and approval of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. I say this because it is a fact that ELCA leadership know what is being taught and what goes on at this church, and they allow it to continue. (see here, here and here) They have the power, authority and responsibility to stop it and they do not. A church leader from the ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop even spoke at a herchurch feminism conference showing the audience pictures of a female Jesus. (see here)
The fundraising page goes on to say the painting will be, “Attached via panels to the East face of the purple herchurch tower, this mural promises to be a focal point in the world famous San Francisco mural collection. . .The dream is to share the beauty to all who pass and prophetically envision our mission of rebirthing the divine feminine in ourselves, the church and the world.”
A Hindu goddess (as well as the other pagan gods) lifted up and worshiped by a Christian church is pure wickedness. They are blatantly breaking the commandment set by God, "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) It is offensive, sinful, blasphemous and evil. ELCA members, know this: your leadership allows it!
What kind of God-honoring Christian denomination would do that? And what about the huge painting of a topless woman/goddess being placed on the church tower? Children will see it. Yet, many of you will still support the ELCA.
Think about it. Is this the kind of denomination you want to be part of? Sure it's no fun to leave your ELCA church, the one you have been going to for so long, the one that has so many of your friends attending. But remember, your church is part of the ELCA which allows goddess worship and openly stands against God's Word in so many areas. This is a denomination that has taught YOUR pastor.
So what is more important to you, going to your comfortable church or going to a church that believes the Bible and worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and His Son Jesus Christ? One day you may need to justify your decision to God Almighty.
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.
The ELCA is an Inclusive Church
The following information is from a speech called "Equipping the Saints for Ministry: ‘These are the times that try our souls’ - by Pastor Gary Jepson from Puyallup, Washington.
Last fall, I wrote an email to our ELCA Bishop, Mark Hanson, asking him if he was aware of the ELCA congregation in San Francisco, Ebenezer Lutheran Church. I was pretty sure that he was aware but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. If you are not aware of this congregation, look it up on the Internet – www.herchurch.org. In short, this is a congregation that has been taken over by a radical feminist element and pastor, and it practices “goddess worship.” It does not confess the Trinity as Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit. They confess Mother, Christ Sophia, and Holy Spirit. If you go to their website you will be able to buy a rosary (strange enough in a Lutheran context, but not necessarily bad), a rosary, not with a cross (because that’s a symbol not of divine love, sacrifice, and salvation but of divine child abuse), but a rosary with a goddess figure on it. The goddess is the likeness of a fertility goddess from ancient Baalism. Baalism, of course, isn’t a problem for the leaders of Ebenezer Lutheran Church because all that stuff in the Old Testament condemning the Baal cult and fertility worship is in their view merely patriarchal paranoia in an effort to repress the feminine.
Now, I think all of us would agree that they have the right (as individuals and as a group) to believe whatever they want. They can even band together to start their own congregation, denomination, or religion. However, on the basis of their own posted statements, they claim to be an ELCA congregation. But they are in complete violation of the ELCA constitutional faith statement because they are completely at odds with the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions.
And the pastor is completely at odds with the ELCA “Visions and Expectations” statement for clergy. How do they justify that? How do they justify hijacking a congregation founded and paid for by Lutherans?
So, I wrote Bp. Hanson and asked him what he was going to do about it. He, of course, did not respond to my e-mail (and I did not expect that he would), but his executive secretary did. He wrote something to the effect: “Dear Rev. Jepsen, thank you for sharing your concerns with Bp. Hanson. You are aware, of course, that the ELCA is organized into synods (Duh – I didn’t know that! I’ve only been a pastor for over 30 years!) and that it is therefore the responsibility of the local synod bishop to deal with these sorts of issues in his synod. And, do remember, the ELCA is an inclusive church.”
Of course I know the ELCA is organized in synods! What I wanted to know was whether or not Bp. Hanson was going to do anything about this situation to hold this congregation accountable, or to hold the synod bishop of the San Francisco area accountable for his failure to discipline the congregation and its pastor in terms of their violation of the ELCA faith statement and such.
You see, what we have here is a major violation of the fiduciary responsibility of the synod bishop and of Bp. Hanson to fulfill the responsibilities of their offices. And, if he’s going to do that, why on earth did we ever need bishops (overseers) in the first place? And why did we need the historic episcopate when one of the arguments for it was to strengthen the “magisterial” (teaching) office of the church in order to insure orthodoxy?!!?
Can you imagine the Apostle Paul allowing that? Or Martin Luther? Can you imagine Pope Benedict XVI allowing one of his bishops to deal so irresponsibly with a rogue congregation? And then just wash his hands of the matter!!! Frankly that’s not only a violation of Bp. Hanson’s fiduciary responsibility as Bishop, it’s also a violation of his ordination vows to preach and teach in accordance with the Scriptures and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. Unfortunately, I was so disgusted with that e-mail that I deleted it so I cannot produce it as evidence. You have to trust my memory.
So, on this basis, we have a cynical commentary right out of ELCA headquarters on what ordination vows mean for our church. Little or nothing! What do the words of the ELCA faith statement mean? Little or nothing! Instead, in place of our ordination vows and faith statement we have some fuzzyheaded notion of “tolerance” and “inclusivity”! Because, if what I have described is accurate (and it is), then it appears that in the ELCA you can preach and teach heretical doctrine, thumb your nose at the Scriptures, the Lutheran Confessions, and so on (so long as you do liturgy correctly). Do all that and you will be welcomed in the ELCA with open arms because, after all “we are an inclusive church!” However, if you raise a question about heretical doctrine and improper procedure you will be virtually banished for “intolerance”, and treated as if you don’t exist!
At least the Roman Catholic Church of Luther’s day took him seriously enough to excommunicate him. The ELCA just banishes you, ignores you, and refuses to answer legitimate inquiry.
This is what happens when a church is seduced by the culture of death into cultural agendas and into cynical methods of interpretation when a church is not only in the world, but also too much of the world. Then it fails (by submitting itself to the heretical rubric of “tolerance”) to hold people accountable to its founding documents and statements of faith.
Whether intentionally or not, the very leaders we elected to lead and guide us in accordance with our founding documents have now, in effect, subverted those documents without any clear statement of why or where they are trying to take us.
Does this bewilder you as much as it does me? I am bewildered because I fail to understand the reason or the logic that enables them to justify their actions. In fact, there appears to be an abandonment of reason and rationality when it comes to these practices and trends. I suppose, in their thinking, logic and reason are just a vestige of patriarchy and its repression of the more holistic feminine embrace of feelings and intuition.
Read the full speech here.
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