(The following article was written by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and twitter - here.)
Today is Reformation Sunday, the day Protestants praise God for Martin Luther's rediscovery of the Bible's teaching that we are saved by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Sadly, many in liberal, mainline Protestant denominations no longer believe we are saved by faith in Christ alone. Many pastors and seminary professors have embraced the heresy of universalism which teaches that all people, whether they believe in Jesus or not, will go to heaven. The problem with universalism is that Jesus taught the opposite. Jesus frequently preached about Hell, more than anyone else in the Bible. Jesus insisted He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6), and those who reject Him are condemned (John 3:18). This was also the preaching of the Apostles (Acts 4:12).
But universalism has zapped the missionary zeal of the Church. The number of missionaries sent out by liberal denominations has fallen dramatically in recent decades.
Back to the prayers from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Augsburg/Fortress Press. Today in church we prayed:
Reinvigorate those places that have become desolate through human
intervention or natural disaster. Breathe new life into
plants, animals and watersheds, Lord in your mercy, hear our
Nothing is wrong with praying for the environment, but when we pray regularly for the salvation of the planet and rarely or never for the salvation of unbelievers, something is wrong. I am waiting for one prayer from the ELCA that goes something like this:
Lord, we pray for the missionaries to bring the Good News to the
lost, that Jesus is the only Savior who can bring salvation
from Hell, forgiveness of sins and eternal life for all who believe.
I have yet to hear the words "only Savior", "lost", or "Hell" in ELCA prayers.
In Jesus, the only 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.)
Frederic and Mary Anne Brussat write a monthly column for the national magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He is a United Church of Christ pastor and she is an interfaith minister, ordained by the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary. If that sounds kind of New Age and "all religions are fine", that's the way their website looks. Through the years the Brussats regularly commend liberal books and media to their readers. Here is how their July 2015 article begins as they recommend a book by liberal theologian Harvey Cox:
"Many mainline Protestant congregations have been split apart by biblical literalists who say there is only one way to read the Bible. Harvey Cox, who has taught at Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass., since 1965, can be counted on to help read and study the Bible with an open heart and mind."
So there it is, if you have a conservative view of Scripture, you split churches apart. If you're liberal, you have an open heart and mind.
The truth is that the liberal view of Scripture has caused division in ELCA churches where some ELCA pastors promote universalism, abortion rights, and homosexual behavior. Some ELCA seminary professors deny various miracles in the Bible like the Virgin Birth of Christ, some teach we should worship "God the Mother", and a number teach that all people will go to heaven, whether they believe in Jesus or not.
So who is "splitting apart" the Church? Not those who believe in traditional Christian doctrine, but those who deny it. It is the reason that liberal, mainline denominations have shrunk in the last 40 years.
In Jesus our Savior,
Pastor Tom Brock
Exposing the ELCA has written extensively about the dangerous and non-Biblical belief and acceptance of the teaching of universalism ("a theological doctrine that all human beings will eventually be saved") within in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Just last week well known ELCA pastor/author and highly sought after speaker, Nadia Bolz-Weber revealed that she believes all people will be saved.
Rev. Bolz-Weber was interviewed by the online journal Religion & Politics:
“R&P: Would you consider yourself a universalist? Does everyone get saved in the end?
Universalism is a dangerous teaching. (Read here) But once again we see a leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America professing it. (not to mention ELCA websites and publications that do the same)
Check out what ELCA pastor Bolz-Weber then says when asked “Do you think the future of the Church involves synthesis with other faiths?”
“Syncretism has always been part of Christianity. There’s a reason why the Virgin of Guadalupe is huge in Mexico, and it has to do with the goddess religion that existed before that. I don’t think it’s something to fear. I think it’s the way that Christianity has survived. It lends itself in a sense towards it. And that’s why it can exist in so many different places in so many different forms.”
Adhering to other religions (which are false) or mixing other religions with Christianity is not a problem to people like Bolz-Weber because their understanding is that everyone will go to heaven anyway, according to their universalistic belief.
All this being said, (and all that we have reported on Nadia Bolz-Weber in the past – see here and scrolled down) Rev. Bolz-Weber still calls herself “orthodox.” From this article, Rev. Bolz-Weber says “I’m this really orthodox Lutheran theologian.” Oxforddictionaries.com defines “orthodox” as “Following or conforming to the traditional or generally accepted rules or beliefs of a religion, philosophy, or practice.” I, for one, wouldn’t call Nadia Bolz-Weber orthodox.
The following article was written by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook (here) and twitter (here.)
The ELCA's official website has an "Ask the Pastor" blog where people can ask ELCA pastors a question. The most recent is called "Eternal Life for Everyone?" The question is whether the ELCA will line up with the heresy of universalism (that everyone is saved, whether one believes in Christ or not).
In part, here is how Pastor Monica answered:
...there are many who seek to bring salvation to people by way of threatening eternal damnation. It’s a fear tactic. ...God does not destroy the earth while saving a select few. This is not the God who sent his only Son not to condemn but to save. Again not just a few – but the whole world! ...Will we be judged? Yes. Where will we spend eternity? I trust the God of love who first loved us in Christ Jesus.
So, catch that, the whole world goes to heaven according to her.
Here in part is Pastor's David's response to the same question:
...The question is whether only the righteous will be resurrected, or will both the righteous and the wicked be resurrected at Christ’s return? And on that question, many very intelligent and faithful people (much smarter than I) have written at length and disagreed....At the end of the day, the answer resides in God’s control and not in mine. My trust is in God’s grace, and my hope is in the resurrected Jesus Christ. I will let myself be satisfied with the mystery, and know that all will be clear when God makes it so.
So, one pastor says all will be saved, the other says says it is a mystery. The Bible teaches differently. There will definitely be a resurrection of the just and unjust. The Old Testament teaches this (Daniel 12:2) as does Jesus Himself (John 5:29). And the verses where Jesus talks about the reality of Hell are numerous (see, for instance, Matthew 25:46 where Jesus talks about eternal punishment). And, yes, faith is Christ is necessary for salvation (Acts 16:31, Romans 3:26).
Is it any wonder that the number of missionaries in the ELCA has gone down since its founding in 1988? If everyone is saved, lets bring the missionaries home.
In Jesus our Savior,
Pastor Tom Brock
The evidence accumulating against the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America teaching universalism (that all people are saved) is overwhelming (see here and scroll down here). Sadly, there are many ELCA members who are in denial, ignorant of this fact or do not know that the teaching is non-biblical. That is why I continue to compile evidence in hopes that God will open the eyes of these members so that they will see the dangerous false teaching coming from their denomination.
Today I'd like to share with you three more instances of the ELCA teaching universalism. The first is from the self-promoting ELCA preacher/author/speaker Nadia Bolz-Weber. During a sermon given October 2014, the stench of universalism filled the sanctuary when Bolz-Weber preached, “So I believe with all my being that those who leave this world, even by their own hand, are held in the same pure love of God from which they were born. If they could not feel the truth of God’s love in life, they are surrounded by it in the life everlasting.” (see here)
The second comes from Rev. Scot D. Ruffatto of Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Mukwonago, WI (ELCA) who writes:
“Just a thought, if there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus does that also include God’s apparent favoritism in the Bible? Or even the condition of having to believe?” (see here)
And lastly, from Matthew Frost, a Ph.D student at the ELCA's Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago:
“I make no secret of the fact that I am a universalist, and a very particular one. I believe that the whole creation is in fact redeemed in Christ, without concern for moral change, ontological change, or 'regeneration.'" (see here)
The following is by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. Follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and twitter - here.
The April issue of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's official magazine, The Lutheran, has on its cover "Helping Save the Earth". The articles inside are about saving the planet. Yes, we should be good stewards of the environment, but I got to thinking: When is the last time The Lutheran had a cover article "Saving lost human souls through the Gospel of Christ"? I have never seen such a cover. Maybe because the ELCA doesn't know if it believes people are really lost without Christ. The Lutheran has printed a number of articles espousing universalism, the heresy that faith in Christ is not necessary for salvation (ultimately everyone universally will be saved, Christian or not). Where in the ELCA is the zeal for saving lost human souls? Tragically, I believe it has been replaced with concern for saving the planet, changing immigration laws, Middle East politics, gay advocacy, etc. etc. Just go to ELCA.org and look at its "News releases". Its mainly liberal politics. Perhaps the reason the number of ELCA missionaries has dropped dramatically since the ELCA's founding in 1988 is because many in ELCA leadership do not believe in Hell anymore. And in the ELCA's hymnal, the line in the Apostle's Creed that Jesus "descended into hell" has been left out.
Years ago when I was still in the ELCA, some conservative pastors and I went to our Minneapolis Area Synod conventions every year and raised questions like: Why does the ELCA pay for abortion with offering dollars in its healthcare plan? Why is the ELCA promoting homosexuality? Why are we changing the Biblical "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" language for feminine images of God? One year we even had a resolution reaffirming the Bible's teaching that Jesus is the only way of salvation (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). It lost.
What did pass one year was a resolution that we go back to our churches and encourage that we drink coffee out of ceramic cups because styrofoam cups are dangerous to the environment. I could take it no more and got to the microphone: "If we cared half as much about the dangers of hell as we do about the dangers of the styrofoam cup, there might be hope for this synod."
Well, in three days we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, when He triumphed over sin, death and Hell for us. And yes, according to the Bible and Jesus Christ Himself, Hell really does exists.
In the love of our Risen Savior,
Pastor Tom Brock
(The following is by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. Follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and twitter - here.)
How do liberal pastors get around the Bible's clear teaching that Jesus is the only way of salvation (John 14:6, Acts 4:12)? Below is a tragic example of a pastor trying to do just that. You will notice the tortured hermeneutics he uses to get around the plain meaning of John 14:6. It is sad because once Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, a huge ELCA congregation, was known for being more evangelical. It looks like ...those days are gone.
Pastor Tom Brock
From Prince of Peace's website:
March 16, 2015 by Jeff Marian
Recently a friend confided that he was troubled by John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
Like many others, my friend was troubled by the way that this verse is often interpreted. The interpretation goes something like this: “God will only accept, and give entrance into heaven, those who believe certain doctrines about Jesus, like his virgin birth, his divine/human nature, his substitutionary atonement. Everyone else will be rejected and condemned.”
John 14:6 would trouble me, too, if that’s what I thought it meant. But I don’t, if for no other reason than that it runs counter to the profound inclusivity that Jesus modeled throughout his life and ministry.
There are, fortunately, other ways to understand and interpret Jesus’ words...I understand “the way” of Jesus as the pathway of love, forgiveness and self-sacrifice … not the way in to God’s favor, and not the way out of eternal condemnation. The way, the truth and the life are not an end result reserved for people who believe certain religious doctrines. Daily dying to old self-centered ways and daily rising to newness of life is a journey that’s universal and inclusive, and God’s Spirit meets and empowers all who choose to walk that road.
I’ve met far too many who profess all the right doctrine but seem to walk the dead-end road of life-denying anger and judgment. But I’ve never met anyone walking in the way of Jesus – dying to self-centeredness and rising to newness of life – who didn’t radiate life-giving grace, no matter what their doctrine.
So, in light of John 14:6, I think the question is this: Which “way” are you walking?
Jeff Marian is Lead Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN
Rev. Stephen Bouman, executive director for congregational and synodical mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) recently attended a meeting designed “to maintain religious dialogue and seek action together for peace” between "Iraqi Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Turkmen and Kurdish religious leaders." The ELCA news service reports that at the gathering Rev. Stephen Bouman said “A second tenant [sic] is that no one gathered has special access to God; there is no absolute inside track to God.” (see here) Maybe Rev. Bouman has never read or doesn't believe what Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
"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
Read for yourself what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America published about salvation. It's from an article written by an ELCA seminary professor:
“Difficult as it is—because I always think of it as unfair—I’ve come to accept God’s universal salvation as the final consequence of Jesus’ resurrection. I think of all the best and worst, the innocent and the guilty, Holocaust victims and the evil perpetrators, those killed in all of our senseless wars and the misguided leaders who send them into battle. Christ will raise us all—and somehow bend us into shape so we become the human beings we were intended to be.” (read the article published in the ELCA's The Lutheran magazine here)
Make no mistake, the ELCA magazine does NOT say that faith is required for salvation. They are clear: all people will go to heaven. Hitler, who murdered 6 million Jews, is in heaven according to them -- as are all his Nazi minions. In the same vein, so is ELCA member and late-term abortion doctor George Tiller . . . and Josef Stalin, Osama bin Laden, King Herod, kidnappers, rapists, murderers, terrorists . . . all people go to heaven, even if they reject Christ, according to the ELCA.
Here is another quote from the article advocating universal salvation:
“Because Jesus is risen everything has changed radically. We are set free from serving the powers of death with our lives, fears, policies...This vision also applies to everyone. Paul says 'all' repeatedly, and I take it that he means 'all.' Theologian Robert Farrar Capon taught me years ago that Jesus didn’t come to repair the repairable, correct the correctable, improve the improvable. He came to raise the dead! The only final condition for eternal participation in Christ’s victory is that we be dead, 100 percent, gold-plated dead.”
All dead people go to heaven . . . so says the ELCA.
That is completely false and hundreds of verses from God's Word make this clear. There is a hell. People will go there. The universal salvation message, that the ELCA is espousing, is deceiving its members and putting their salvation at risk. It is by grace, through faith in Jesus, that anyone may have the assurance of salvation. Who are these leaders who have the audacity to declare anything other than what God's Word declares?
See more documentation on the ELCA teaching universalism here.
The teaching happening in ELCA seminaries is non-Biblical, dangerous and heretical. The comment below is further confirmation of this -
"why do you think that there are 'still some very good professors' at Luther Seminary? As a student at Luther I would love to see just one. According to more than two-thirds of my professors: Everyone is Saved, Jesus came back as a Ghost, and God is a woman, sadly the future pastors of ELCA agree." (Posted on a closed facebook group page here)
The non-Biblical teachings of the ELCA continue and Biblically knowledgeable readers of the ELCA's official magazine, the Lutheran, are letting the denomination know what they think. Here are some recent letters that were sent to the magazine -
"Peter W. Marty’s advocacy of the old heresy of universalism is heartbreaking (March, page 4). If the editor believed in the doctrines of the church, he would suspend Marty immediately. If the presiding bishop loved her church she would start the process of defrocking him tomorrow. Neither of these will happen. The leaders of the ELCA are so lukewarm and lazy that they will sniff at their critics and pretend that they are not tolerating a debilitating old heresy but are actually breaking new theological ground.
“It appears that Marty accidentally submitted his “Who gets saved?” column to The Lutheran when he surely must have intended it for publication in a Unitarian Universalist periodical. How careless.
The Rev. Elna L. Stratton
“Marty tells us in January (page 3) that God does not answer our prayers, and in March that Christians have no special place with God over any other religion. In between, Erik Heen tells us in “Predestination” (February, page 14) that all will be saved. These articles would be more appropriate in a Unitarian magazine. They do not seem Lutheran to me.
Richard N. Bergesen
West Chester, Pa.”
“I was dismayed to read Marty’s column in March (page 3), which appeared to embrace universal salvation. Christ did, indeed, die for everyone. However, an individual must accept Christ as savior to receive the gift of eternal life. I was born into a Jewish family, circumstances over which I had no control. Although I love my heritage, I was not saved and assured of heaven until I accepted Jesus as the messiah 35 years ago. This is a scriptural fact, not an 'exclusive club' mentality.
“In her April column the presiding bishop mentions German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I am currently reading my fourth book on Bonhoeffer, his Letters from Prison. If Bonhoeffer were alive today, I think he would question the ELCA and the direction taken by our beloved church during the past 20 years. In fact, he would flee in the opposite direction.
Ober J. Anderson
Bonus letter -
“Clearly the ELCA should warmly welcome people of all races (February, page 50). There are also other types of diversity. Wikipedia states that the ELCA is a broad denomination containing socially conservative and liberal factions that emphasize liturgical renewal, confessional Lutheranism, charismatic revivalism, moderate to liberal theology and liberal activism. Divergence (a form of diversity) on gay ordination has led to another Balkanization (a potential result of diversity) of American Lutherans. Politically, surveys indicate that the laity splits evenly between 45 percent Democrat and 43 percent Republican, yet clergy are 69 percent Democrat and 19 percent Republican, revealing another diversity gap within the ELCA.
New York City”
In an effort to reach more people with the truth about what the ELCA teaches regarding salvation, Exposing the ELCA has created this video highlighting universalism being taught by ELCA leadership.
Universalism, the belief that all people will be saved, is prevalent in the ELCA. But an article in the ELCA's official publication, The Lutheran, shows us that universalism has gone from “a” belief, to “the” belief of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ELCA has announced to its readers that the universalism is the doctrine the denomination is now built on.
The ELCA article “Who Gets Saved?” is written by pastor Peter W. Marty and he writes:
Lutheran Pastor Tom Brock responded to The Lutheran article on Facebook saying, “If anyone doubts that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pushes the heresy of universalism--the teaching that all people will be saved whether they believe in Jesus or not--see the article...from The Lutheran, the ELCA's official magazine. Tragic what the writer does with John 14:6, turning the teaching of Jesus on its ear. The author's point is that you don't really need faith in Christ to be saved. John 14:6, Acts 4:12 and 16:31 teach otherwise. No wonder the number of missionaries the ELCA sends out has gone down. If everyone is saved, no need to send missionaries.”
The other day a came across another ELCA pastor publicly proclaiming universalism. ELCA pastor Scot Ruffatto in Mukwonago, Wisconsin (former missionary of the ELCA to the Central African Republic) writes this on his church's blog:
People will be going to hell for eternity because the ELCA has embraced the teaching of universalism and as a result are not proclaiming the Truth of God's Word which says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.” - John 3:16-18
See more documentation of the ELCA teaching universalism. (here and here)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America promotes that everyone, worldwide, is saved by grace. This theological position flies in the face of sound Biblical teaching. That's why you will not hear ELCA leadership respond to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” with a Biblical answer like “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31) or “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38).
This false understanding of salvation for all plays out clearly through the ELCA's policy for the very small number of missionaries that they send out. ELCA missionary Rev. Angela Zimmann lets everyone know what her job is NOT as a missionary of the church. She writes,
“My job as a missionary in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is not to convert anyone to anything. The 'accompaniment model' for missionary work, to which we subscribe, is defined as walking together in solidarity, practicing interdependence and mutuality.” (read here)
Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 27:19). Yet in complete opposition to the Prince of Peace, an official website of the ELCA churchwide published an article whose author clearly states,
“I usually associate evangelism with an effort to convert nonbelievers to Christianity, something that makes me very uncomfortable. Too often the desire to bring about conversions grows out of a belief that nonbelievers need to be 'saved' from eternal damnation by adopting the Christian faith.
To the extent that evangelism is about 'saving souls,' I want nothing to do with it.
I approach matters of faith and belief with humility, unwilling to assert the superiority of my own religious beliefs over those of others.” (read here)
Can it be true? The ELCA and its missionaries do not seek to bring anyone to knowledge of God and faith in Jesus? There is no doubt. The ELCA once again admits it on their website Living Lutheran -
“Today, missionaries with the ELCA serve in 48 countries. . .Most missionaries from Europe and North America are now lay people with special expertise, rather than clergy intent on conversion.” (read here)
I imagine that the enemy of God is very happy that the ELCA does not seek to save anyone who does not know Christ as Lord and Savior. So if ELCA missionaries and ELCA leaders are not interested in bringing the lost to Jesus, then what is the point?
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