Death of a liberal Lutheran bishop
(The following article was written by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and Twitter - here.)
Bishop Lowell Erdahl, retired Bishop of the St. Paul Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, died this month. He and I were on opposite sides of moral issues back in the days when I was still in the ELCA. He and former head ELCA Bishop Herbert Chilstrom, who died last year, co-wrote a book entitled “Sexual Fulfillment: For Single and Married, Straight and Gay, Young and Old”. The book endorsed homosexual behavior in ‘loving, committed relationships” and also stated that “self-pleasuring” (masturbation) can be a gift from God.
I have personally struggled with same sex attraction for most of my life, but for the sake of Christ and my eternal soul, I abstain. Thus, I was grieved that Erdahl and Chilstrom promoted the acceptance of homosexual behavior in the Church. And they won. Since 2009 the ELCA has ordained practicing homosexuals and transgender persons and many ELCA congregations now perform homosexual “weddings.” In May, the ELCA elected the world’s first transgender bishop.
Today, Erdahl and Chilstrom stand before God to answer for denying the Bible which teaches “homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-11). Romans 1:32 talks about people who give “hearty approval” to sin. I am sad to say, I think these two bishops did that.
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Tom Brock
(Here is Bishop Erdahl's obituary)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a dying, pro-abortion, pro-gay, pro-transgender, anti-Israel, sanctuary denomination, that teaches universalism (all people go to heaven), that often refers to God as "she" and refrains from using male words for Him, dismisses many Biblical accounts, does not evangelize but advocates for the most liberal social causes.
Mike Housholder is an ELCA pastor at the ELCA's largest church, Lutheran Church of Hope (West Des Moines, Iowa). Rev. Housholder and Lutheran Church of Hope embrace their affiliation with the ELCA. They even hosted their ELCA synod's assembly 2 months ago. I have not come across one public statement by Pastor Housholder or his mega church, in the last 10 years where he speaks a word of correction, pleads with or calls for repentance of the ELCA for its wickedness. That should tell you a lot.
Earlier this year, in a sermon, Pastor Mike Housholder lifted up an ELCA leader, who was instrumental in bringing approval of same-sex marriage to the ELCA, yet spoke condemnation of people Housholder labeled as "self-righteous fundamentalist(s)."
Cambridge Dictionary defines "fundamentalist" as "someone who believes in traditional forms of a religion, or believes that what is written in a holy book, such as the Christian Bible, is completely true."
Just before addressing the "fundamentalist(s)", Housholder shared a very peculiar story in his sermon, where he relayed an account of his observing an atheist's warmhearted comments in reaction to seeing the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Then bizarrely, Rev. Housholder puts on a grotesque face and mockingly shares how a Christian may "badly" witness to the said atheist (see video below at the 13:30 minute mark). I believe this is an interesting precursor to what followed next, with Pastor Mike Housholder's comments about fundamentalists.
As the sermon continues, the mega church pastor references the death of former Presiding Bishop Herbert Chilstrom of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and how Pastor Housholder did not like some people's reaction to the news to Chilstrom's death, whom Rev. Housholder disdainfully labels fundamentalists. He says:
"This last week a bishop in the Lutheran Church died. He was the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, back in the day. I was directed to a Facebook page, and on that Facebook page, which is operated by some real strong self-righteous fundamentalist-type Christians, they posted that this bishop died, and they didn't like him because he didn't share their theology, he wasn't a fundamentalist. He didn't fit in with the very narrow, precise self-righteous boundaries they have. And they said he died, and then I looked at all the comments underneath it; there were about 15 comments, and they were like, 'Good, I hope he likes hell,' 'I hope he likes burning there,' 'That will suit him right.' I thought, no wonder, no wonder Christians are so bad at sharing the light and the love and the good news, the good news of Jesus Christ. Because we approach it with the wrong heart and the wrong passion. And we look at people who maybe disagree with us, this is not an atheist, this is a believing Christian bishop who just didn't agree theologically with these folks. But they took some solace in self-righteously proclaiming that they believe he is in hell now. Because he didn't believe exactly the way they believed with their narrow definition of theology" (See here or below at the 14:30 minute mark). Rev. Housholder then says "Jesus had problems with people like that too. They were the Pharisees and the Scribes in his day."
There are many problems with Rev. Housholder's statements. Chief among them is that he did not disclose, but minimized the Presiding Bishop Chilstrom's "theology." The Minneapolis Star Tribune describes some of Chilstrom's theology this way,
“From early in his tenure as presiding bishop, Chilstrom worked to bridge gaps and build relationships with other denominations and faiths. He became a powerful advocate for the full participation of gay and lesbian members and pastors in the church, and fought against a proposed ban on same-sex marriage in Minnesota.” ("With gentle wisdom, he led the ELCA into the modern era," Feb. 7 print edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.)
So Presiding Bishop Chilstrom encouraged same-gender relations. Something God lovingly warns us to not do nor encourage. Think of all the harm Bishop Chilstrom caused to people who have same-sex attraction, and to those who have had to compromise their belief in God's Word by trusting this ELCA leader. But Rev. Mike Housholder describes it as "he didn't believe exactly the way they believed with their narrow definition of theology."
The ELCA is making its own rules, like the Pharisees did. Rules that are not Biblical but in fact are in opposition to God's directives. Lutheran Church of Hope is an ELCA church. Rev. Housholder is an ELCA pastor. Saying that others are Pharisees in the light of his own denomination is projection.
People who sit in Lutheran Church of Hope should be gravely concerned over this and the church's support of the ELCA, whose theology is so often in complete opposition to God's Word. Why would people who believe Scripture attend and support any ELCA church?
A “fundamentalist friend" responded to Rev. Housholder's comments/sermon saying,
There are two issues Housholder brings up: one about which he is rightly indignant and the other one he glosses over, never fully explaining what the issue is except to condemn “fundamentalists” who take issue with Chilstrom.
Housholder's right to condemn those who confidently declare that Chilstrom is in hell (none of us knows that) and gloat over it if he is. No right-minded Christian would hope for or rejoice over eternal damnation, especially for someone who professes to be a Christian.
Here’s where Housholder glosses over the real problem: “They (fundamentalists) didn't like him [Chilstrom]. He didn’t fit in with their really narrow self-righteous boundaries. Chilstrom wasn't an atheist. He was a believing Christian bishop who just didn’t agree theologically with these [“fundamentalist”] folks.”
Here are Housholder's implications: Chilstrom was a “believing Christian bishop" and a presiding bishop, no less, so we’re given to understand that there’s nothing fundamentally — or dangerously -- unbiblical about his beliefs. And if he did make theological pronouncements that others disagreed with, it’s their fault for being “narrow and self-righteous” and not extending a “live and let live” genial tolerance toward any and all of Chilstrom's beliefs, which Housholder never identifies.
Chilstrom could well have been saved, and I’ve heard nothing about his rejecting, e.g., Jesus’ divinity or other foundational Christian tenets. Here’s what Chilstrom did, though, that Housholder never identifies:
[The author of this letter then quotes a letter of David Barnhart]
“You, Bishop Chilstrom, and the ELCA leadership were responsible for relentlessly driving this [homosexuality-endorsing] agenda in the ELCA over the past 22 years. It was you and liberal ELCA leaders who initiated studies, costing millions of benevolence dollars, in order to reeducate ELCA members that homosexuality should be fully accepted by the church, in total contradiction to the teachings of Scripture. Because the Bible clearly identifies homosexuality as sin and an abomination before God (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, Jude 1:7), ELCA leaders gathered theologians and teachers to write books, papers, and articles that would ‘prove’ numerous biblical passages that identify homosexual acts as sin do not really mean what the text declares.” [https://davidbarnhart.blogspot.com/2011/03/bishop-herbert-chilstroms-letter-to.html ]
So even assuming Chilstrom was a believing Christian bishop, did he in fact spearhead a movement in the ELCA to recategorize and denominationally endorse (at the Convention of ’09) Bible-proscribed sexual sin that the Apostle Paul unequivocally states will eternally damn the unrepentant participant in that sin? If Chilstrom did, then he’s pointing ELCA parishioners toward damnation, not salvation. And the Apostle Paul, who denounced homosexual acts as death-dealing sin, is also a “narrow-minded fundamentalist” for disagreeing with Chilstrom.
Here’s what confessional Christian “fundamentalists” say to homosexuals:
[again quoting Barnhart’s letter]
“To all homosexuals, we say — We love you enough to tell you there is a Savior who is able to redeem, forgive and totally transform your life, if you turn to Him in faith and repentance. Don’t listen to those who tell you that you can’t change or be changed. Come to the Savior and be made whole."
And here’s the hope that the Apostle Paul extends to repentant homosexuals:
“And such *were* some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Is anyone in the post-Chilstrom ELCA preaching Jesus’ lifesaving power to transform ALL sinners who obey His command to “Repent and believe the gospel"? Is anyone in the ELCA fearlessly standing against “..a ‘cheap love’ [that] allows us to let others slide deeper into sin, self-confident that we’ve loved them by never pushing-back for their good”? https://breakpoint.org/what-is-love/
Sermon from January 26, 2020
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