(The following article is from Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and Twitter - here.)
Rob Bell once served as pastor for an evangelical church but became controversial when he denied the existence of Hell. He has appeared on Oprah's network. Lutherans believe in eternal punishment because this is the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 25:46) and also of the Lutheran Confessions, which Lutheran pastors pledge to uphold. But the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America continues to go down the road of denying Hell with this promotion on the Minneapolis Area Synod's website:
"An evening with Rob Bell and Peter Rollins. Hear inspiration, challenge, hope, and promise from two of the best tellers of good news in the world" (to be held August 17th). (See here)
ELCA head Bishop Elizabeth Eaton was asked by a Chicago newspaper "Does Hell exist?" Her response: " It may, but i think its empty." This past summer the ELCA in convention passed an interreligious resolution saying that we don't know what God thinks of non-Christian religions. One delegate tried to make an amendment, saying that we do know what God thinks because John 14:6 says Jesus is the only way of salvation. He was voted down by 97 percent.
During my first year in college, I tried not to believe in Hell. That year I re-read the New Testament and every time Hell was mentioned, I wrote it down. I came to believe that we cannot be faithful to the words of Christ and the New Testament and deny the existence of Hell.
If you attend a church where the pastor does not believe in Hell, I encourage you to find a church--and a denomination--which does.
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Tom Brock
God's Word warns us about hell. (See here) Jesus spoke of hell and eternal punishment more than anyone in Scripture. Yet the ELCA seems to show no concern about people going to hell.
Rev. Craig Miller replied, “Is the ELCA concerned about anyone going to hell? I have not heard people express concern...Bishop have you heard of anyone expressing concern about (hell)? Our concern is that people know the gospel message is for them…Short answer is probably no, the ELCA has not expressed any concern that anyone is going to hell. But we wouldn’t know who it would be if it was somebody.” The recording, which has been removed from the website, was here and the statement was made at 1:55:54 on December 9, 2018.
ELCA leaders are not concerned about hell because most do not believe in hell or that anyone will be there. (See here and here. Scroll down the page.)
A couple years ago ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton was asked, "Is there a hell?" Bishop Eaton's answered, "There may be, but I think it is empty.” (See here)
This is against the witness of Scripture, against what God has said in His Word.
Is there any wonder why the ELCA is not about bringing people to faith in Christ?
Is there any wonder why many ELCA leaders are preaching universalism, that all people will be saved?
I have no doubt the devil is pleased.
Paul Egensteiner, Bishop Elect of the Metropolitan New York Synod (ELCA), recently attended a gay pride parade and shared a heretical message. While giving people "...thumbs up or a handshake or high five or simply a greeting of 'Happy Pride!'" Bishop Elect Egensteiner tells of a specific encounter he had with a young man who asked him "You mean I'm not going to hell?” The ELCA bishop writes:
"I was stunned. 'No,' I said. (Along with Bishop Eaton, I believe there is a hell but it is empty, by the grace of the Father and the love of Jesus.) 'God loves you!' He held my hand a little longer and then said, 'Come here. Give me a hug' As I did so, he repeated his initial question, 'So I’m not going to hell, right?' 'No!' I repeated, maybe a little more emphatically this time. 'God LOVES you!'” (See here)
This statement about hell is wrong on many so many levels.
- It is heretical to believe hell is empty. The Bible clearly speaks of people in hell and warns about going there. (See here) Teaching that hell is empty is universalism, a false teaching that all people will be saved. It is a dangerous belief that risks the eternal life of those who believe it. That is what this Evangelical Lutheran Church in America bishop elect (and many in the ELCA) believes. It is a teaching from hell.
- In this exchange between the young man and the ELCA bishop elect, a false assurance of salvation was given. Nothing was said about faith in Christ, repentance, grace by faith for those who believe, fleeing from sin, forgiveness, God's Word or lovingly helping this man know the healing that God can provide him. Satan could not have done better.
This is a grave teaching of the apostate Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Shame on the ELCA for not preaching that Hell is real, people will be in hell and that salvation is available to all by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
- And then you have ELCA bishops encouraging sinful behavior that separates people from the Lord.
ELCA members, you are hurting people and the Lord God Almighty by supporting this denomination.
Chris Brown is an ELCA pastor in Solvang, CA. On Twitter, Pastor Brown responded to a gentleman who listed seven statements of which he believes. Pastor Brown disagreed. The dialogue is quite interesting:
(or see here)
Most ELCA pastors would agree with Pastor Chris Brown in his denial of Biblical inerrancy. And the ELCA constitution does not claim that the Bible is inerrant.
The ELCA Presiding Bishop made a similar claim, as Pastor Brown, concerning hell, last year saying if there is a hell she believes it is empty. (see here)
And as we have seen over the last decade, the vast majority of ELCA pastors do not view homosexuality as sin or sinful.
This is the disturbing reality of the ELCA. Their view of God's Word allows them to pick and choose what parts they believe. Sins, of which people should repent, are celebrated as God-honoring. And their belief about hell, which ties to the belief that all people will be saved, results in no evangelism, no seeking to save souls. (See more on the ELCA's view on hell here and universalism here and here)
To shed some more light on ELCA Pastor Chris Brown, his Twitter page is mostly filled with angry tweets about Republicans, President Trump and those who support him. (See here)
Latest Living Lutheran magazine: Once again more pro-gay, pro-transgender items and an article poo-pooing the need to preach on Hell
(The following article was written May 9th by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and Twitter - here.)
Frequently the official magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America promotes the liberal view on homosexuality and transgenderism. Even though the ELCA voted in 2009 to honor both conservative and liberal viewpoints on the issue of homosexuality when it decided to ordain practicing homosexuals, Living Lutheran magazine never prints a conservative voice. In fact, when a conservative group asked to buy an advertisement in Living Lutheran to promote the conservative view, it was denied.
Long ago the one place one could find conservative viewpoints in the ELCA’s national magazine (it was called “The Lutheran” back then) was in the Letters to the Editor section. Today that section is more like a liberal love fest of how wonderful the articles are. I’m not sure if it is the fact that so many conservatives have left the ELCA that no one writes a contrary word, or if the editorial staff chooses to print only like-minded letters. Here’s a reader who was thrilled with last month’s pro-transgender article:
“It was enlightening and important to read…what
transgender AND Christian means... And, if we believe
when baptized we become his children, then we have
to believe transgender individuals belong to Jesus
through their baptism also…”
No. The Apostle Paul taught in Romans 6:1-13 that we are not to use our baptism as an excuse to sin. Baptism does not move us to practice "grace abuse" but to die to sin and live to God. Hitler and Stalin were baptized. Baptism will not save those who reject Christ and live in impenitent sin (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
Then Living Lutheran has an article in which a lesbian is interviewed about her work in helping Lutheran congregations accept the LGBTQ movement. Again, it is all from the liberal point of view without a hint of doing what professional journalists do: giving the other side
Another article by an ELCA pastor seems to poo-poo the need to preach about Hell.
All in all, another heretical issue of the ELCA's national magazine. And another reason to leave the ELCA for a more Biblical denomination.
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Tom Brock
(The following article was written by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and Twitter - here.)
Today I talked with an elderly Lutheran woman who left her church because it hired a lesbian pastor who has a partner. The church is not far from where I live, and I went to its website to see what such a pastor would preach. The website says it is a progressive church, then says (repeatedly) how much they welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The elderly woman had told me that her last visit to her church was when they were celebrating "Gender Identity Sunday".
In her blog the pastor begins by quoting Jonathan Edwards' famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and then says:
"His words and approach do not represent the God of love that I follow, just like we don’t beat our children in the shed anymore...As for Hell, Hell isn’t a place. It’s an experience: Hell is what the families in Flint Michigan are going through. Hell is a child going to bed hungry, their parents frantic and broken not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Hell is hoping the war in the Middle East doesn’t claim more children-our children. Hell is standing at the border of an unfamiliar country, holding a sick child, only to be turned away."
She is wrong. Jesus talked about Hell as a place where there will be "eternal punishment" (Matthew 25:46). In fact, Jesus talks more about Hell than anyone else in the New Testament. And the Bible teaches that people who live in impenitent sin, including fornication, idolatry, drunkenness, homosexuality, etc., will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Perhaps the pastor has a vested interest in denying the reality of Hell.
The elderly woman I spoke to was upset that the ELCA synod leadership promoted this person to become the pastor of her church. Not too many years ago, someone living in impenitent sin would be lovingly challenged to turn from sin, and if they refused they could be excommunicated. Instead today such people are made pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The good news is the elderly woman has found a very biblical Lutheran Church that she now loves.
In Jesus our Savior,
Pastor Tom Brock
(The following article was written by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and Twitter - here. At the end of his article, you will find a few additional comments by me.)
Elizabeth Eaton, the head Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said in an interview that there may be a Hell, but she thinks it is empty. Contrast that to the teaching of Jesus, who said in a number of places that there is a Hell and there will be people going there (Luke 16:19-31, for example). Bishop Eaton is tragically wrong. Is it any wonder that Bishop Eaton spends time talking about transgender rights, racism, immigration, etc. but to my knowledge has never talked about the need to believe in Jesus to be saved from Hell. Some time ago she was quoted to say that it is not the business of the Church to save souls, that is God's job. Yes, Bishop Eaton, but Jesus has given that job to the Church in His last words on earth (Matthew 28:19) to "Go ye therefore and make disciples".
As long as liberal Protestant leaders like Eaton disbelieve Jesus' words on Hell, liberal mainline denominations will be all about political causes, and will neglect the main thing Christians are called to do: preach the necessity of faith in Christ for salvation (Acts 16:30-31).
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Tom Brock
Here is the response from ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton when she was asked, "Is there a hell?" -
Eaton: “There may be, but I think it is empty.”
Interviewer: "Why is that?"
Eaton: “Well, Jesus was clear in John chapter 3 that when He is raised up he will draw all people to himself. And if we take a look at salvation history, ever since we got booted out of the garden, it has been God’s relentless pursuit to bring His people to God. Now, people wonder “can you say no?” I imagine you can say “no” to God. I don’t think God is going to give up on us. And if God has eternity, than God can certainly keep working on those folks. So that might be a little bit of a heresy along the lines of Origen, but no, I don’t think God gives up.”
If you doubt that the ELCA teaches universalism, here is the ELCA's presiding bishop making it clear. If hell is empty, all people are saved. That is universalism. It is a dangerous heresy, a false teaching, which puts individuals' eternal destiny at risk: faith in Christ is not needed. Live it up, worship other gods, reject Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and you will still go to heaven according to the ELCA's top bishop.
Of course, the Bible directly says this is not so. Heaven and hell are real and people and angels will populate both. It is time to flee this false-teaching denomination. They are playing with people's eternal lives. They are not telling them the truth of how to be saved. This could not be more serious. Tell your friends and family so they are not led astray either. Share this and pray they will read it and see the truth.
Lets take a look at the failure of ELCA leadership and pastors to teach Scriptural truth to their congregations and see how liberal teaching in the church could be affecting the church members beliefs. This is the first in a series of blogs Exposing the ELCA will post sharing the Pew Research Center's findings.
God's Word is clear that there is a hell. But only a little over half of Mainline Lutherans believe in it. This is an indictment of the ELCA leadership. Congregants need to understand the danger of sitting under Bible-denying spiritual leaders.
This Pew Research Center survey questioned "Lutherans in the Mainline Tradition." I believe the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the only Lutheran denomination considered to be in the Mainline Tradition.
Here is a link to this survey.
Jesus talked about hell, more than anyone in Scripture, but many ELCA leaders are so enamored with their own "enlightened" views that they have decided and teach that hell is not real and everyone goes to heaven. They believe they are more attuned to truth then the Son of God, I guess. This is ELCA pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber’s teaching. She has already revealed that she is a universalist (see here) and in a recent sermon Nadia tells us that hell is "imaginary." Here is her direct quote,
“One of the more interesting things folks will say to me is: ‘I’m not religious or anything, I just hope that being a good person is enough.’ To which I always want to say… ‘enough for what?’ … avoiding the punishment of burning in the eternal fires of some kind of imaginary hell?” (see here)
As I’ve already mentioned, “hell deniers” must be deceived or in a state of denial because Jesus continually warned people about hell and being eternally separated from God. In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about people being separated like sheep and goats and He says the goats "will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Elsewhere He says, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Hell is real. Telling people that it is not, is a lie from Satan, and it can lead people to think that faith in Christ is not necessary, that one can believe what ever they want and still go to heaven. People will end up in hell because of this lie.
Stop listening to people who teach contrary to God’s Word and warn others about them. They are false teachers.
"The chief danger of the 20th century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and Heaven without Hell." - William Booth
So it is with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
A recent article by long time ELCA seminary professor, author, speaker and current ELCA president of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), Rev. Dr. David J. Lose, is proof to William Booth's point. Addressing the concept of hell, Rev. Lose tries to dismiss the belief by saying “as you read the rest of the New Testament there are very few references to hell (outside similar parables) and in the Old Testament next to nothing.” (read here)
Truth be told, “hell” is specifically addressed fifty-five times in Scripture (King James Version, see here) and that does not include other references to it or the use of different words and phrases for “hell” like “lake of fire” and “everlasting punishment.”
Hell is a major problem for the liberal leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America because it stands contrary to their belief and teaching that all people will be saved (universalism).
The ELCA seminary president goes on, in his article, to say “For the last few decades at least, you see, 'hell' has stopped being a particularly lively or compelling topic in mainline preaching and conversation. Given it’s relatively scant place in Scripture, that may be a far more faithful treatment of the topic than many on the far right of the religious spectrum would guess. But while many of us have a harder and harder time imagining the God we know in Jesus consigning someone to a place of eternal torment and therefore applaud this development, I have wondered from time to time if we’ve figured out exactly what is a good substitute for hell.
What, that is, is the motivation for our gathering, our giving, our serving and volunteering? At least things were pretty clear when you had heaven as the carrot and hellfire as the stick. But what now? Even heaven seems increasingly difficult to talk about, as we perhaps too narrowly defined it as, well, the opposite of hell. So if we don’t have the mother-of-all reward-and-punishment schemes to fall back on, have we figured out exactly what we’re offering people.”
Rev. Lose then states, “I don’t miss hell...”
The Son of God, Jesus the Christ, spoke of hell more than anyone else in Scripture. So Rev. Lose and the ELCA's attempt to deny the existence of hell is blatantly a satanic lead assault on truth, Scripture and salvation.
“The friendly preacher who fails to warn of the reality of Hell, betrays the Son of God with a kiss.” - Ray Comfort
(by Pastor Tom Brock)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's official magazine The Lutheran has printed more than one article poo-pooing the idea of hell.
This week on the ELCA's website, they ask two pastors that question. Looks like the first one says "Who knows, but because of grace we probably shouldn't", whereas the second one says "Yes."
Here are their responses:
Monica: .... I don’t know that the ELCA has an “official” theological position on heaven or hell other than the Lutheran church affirms the power of the resurrection for eternal life. We also affirm in the Apostles’ Creed that Jesus himself descended into hell (death) and on the third day he rose and ascended into heaven. Luther’s Small Catechism speaks of Christ’s descent into hell not for the purpose of suffering but to proclaim victory over death and enemies. Christ’s ascent into heaven shows God’s will for life. Not even death by crucifixion can keep God’s love from shining in the darkness of our world.
Brian: I think it's fair to say that the ELCA’s “official” position is that heaven and hell exist. It would be impossible to go much further in articulating any description of either. Even the Bible doesn’t offer a single clear description or definition of either.
Add to this that many professors at ELCA seminaries are universalists (the teaching that all people will be saved, regardless of faith in Christ) and you get a mixed bag. But I think it is safe to say many ELCA professors and pastors do not believe in eternal punishment for those who reject Christ.
The problem is that when one becomes a pastor in the ELCA, one makes an oath to uphold the teaching of the Scriptures, the Creeds and the Lutheran Confessions--all of which teach the reality of hell. Jesus taught hell on a number of occasions, that should settle it. But sadly, not in the ELCA.
(link to the ELCA article here)
Last month Antje Jackelén was elected the new archbishop of the Church of Sweden. Antje Jackelén use to teach in the United States at an ELCA seminary. She was a professor at the ELCA's Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. “From 2001-2007, Dr. Jackelén taught systematic theology and religion and science...and was director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science.” (see here)
Due to the election process in Sweden, we have the privilege of learning more about this former ELCA seminary professor, including what she believes.
Here is what has been reported:
While a professor of the ELCA, Antje Jackelén signed a letter declaring her support of evolution and rejecting the Biblical account of creation and Noah's ark. (see here) Promoting evolution is something she is known for in Sweden (read here)
I know it will not surprise anyone to also learn that former ELCA seminary professor Jackelén rejects the Biblical authority on homosexuality. She said this during a sermon she gave at the seminary (LSTC):
“Nevertheless, talking bodies and sex is difficult, especially in churches. We need to find holistic ways of talking about sexuality in church – that was one of the take-home messages from an LSTC leadership conference a couple of years ago. 'The church can't deal with homosexuality because we can't deal with sexuality,' claimed Rev. Jeremiah Wright nine months ago standing at this same lectern. He said so at a workshop for medical and religious professionals on HIV/AIDS.” Dr. Jackelén continues, “The incapacity of dealing with sexual love is not a marginal problem. It costs lives. When homosexual men are forced into heterosexual marriages, they are likely to spread a potential HIV infection to their wives. This happens in the Christian family, with fatal consequences. How can a church proclaim love of God and love of neighbor as the greatest commandments and at the same time sacrifice lives on the altar of the hypocrisy of so-called Christian morality?” (see here)
Rev. Paul T. McCain, made this comment following an article regarding the newly-elected archbishop Antje Jackelén:
“This is absolutely gut wrenching stuff. When I first read all this I just felt sick to my stomach. I have friends in Sweden who have been fighting for years against the apostasy that has overtaken the state church.
In some ways, the election of a person who is so openly apostate makes their task 'easier' simply in the sense that the issues are so starkly put on display for all to see.
Oh, and by the way, she has taught at the ELCA seminary in Chicago.
She frankly is simply saying what most every mainline protestant liberal church actually believes. The only 'secret' is that a huge number of laypersons simply are still kept in the dark about the degree to which outright apostasy has overtaken their churches.
Back when I was serving a parish in Iowa, in the early 1990s, a new ELCA pastor moved in and we paid a courtesy visit and as things happened, it was a very cordial chat so a fellow LCMS pastor and I asked her, 'Hey, what do you teach your folks about this?' And we pointed out to the cemetery next to her churches and the rows of tombstones.
She said, 'Oh, the resurrection? It's a wonderful story and so inspiring. Of course, I don't believe in a bodily resurrection of Jesus, but I preach about it, because that's what the people believe.'
We both just stood there in stunned silence for a few moments." (read here)
Jim Hazelwood, Bishop of the New England Synod of the ELCA went to a youth camp this summer and taught the heresy of universalism to the 450 youth in attendance. The bishop held what he called, “Text and Talk with the Bish” where he invited the youth to text him any questions and then stood before them for 15 minutes and answered many of the texts he received.
Bishop Hazelwood blogged about his heretical teaching, sharing that one student texted, “Do you think god sends nonbelievers to hell?”
Bishop Hazelwood gave this answer to the youth, “No, I don't think God sends nonbelievers to hell, because God is not in that business. Plus it's not about what we believe, it's about the fact that God believes in us." (read here)
What kind of answer is, “God believes in us”? And it doesn't matter what we believe? Bishop, you are teaching the non-Biblical belief of universalism, the belief that all people will be saved.
People of the ELCA, do you see the damage this teaching will do to the 450 youth listening and the countless number of people who hear this belief that is constantly spouted within the ELCA?
Bishop Hazelwood's statement is downright false, deceiving, dangerous and against Christian teaching. God tells us in John 1:12, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
_The ELCA leadership is notorious for questioning scripture. They love to introduce doubt into lay persons’ and seminary students’ minds. Doubt about the truth of scripture. They did this when the ELCA website openly questioned the virgin birth. (read here) Similarly, they encourage questioning key areas of orthodoxy in regard to sin, salvation, creation, hell, factual events in scripture and the inerrancy of scripture, to name a few. (just look around this website) Consider the following as further shocking evidence of one key ELCA leader’s thoughts in regard to hell. (also notice the tone of universalism in what he says)
Bishop Peter Rogness of the Saint Paul Area Synod had this to say:
“I’ve never been much concerned about hell, I guess.”
“I think the ministries that emphasize the reality of hell are also prone to a heavy dose of self-righteousness. . .”
“While the Bible has several intriguing (and varying) references to hell, clearly the God we meet in Jesus Christ is a God who meets us in love and grace and forgiveness and acceptance . . .”
Please go back and read your Bible a little more diligently, Bishop Rogness. Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone else in scripture. If hell is an important enough topic for our Lord and Savior to warn people about, maybe you should too.
Bishop Rogness also said, “I think we have to conclude that whether there is a hell or not is ultimately not going to make or break our faith.” (see here)
This is a perfect example of the ELCA leadership’s view of scripture. If there is something in scripture that the "intellectual" elites do not like, they question it or discard it.
Bishop Rogness, the book of Revelation has a lot to say about the realities of hell. Revelation also says, “And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” - Revelation 22:19
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.
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