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?
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 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is inundated with pastors who preach universalism.
Below you will find commentary by Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon, an associate professor of New Testament at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, explaining how universalism is not Biblical. (the information below comes from Dr. Gagnon's facebook page here) Read it and then try to explain how any ELCA leader in their right mind could teach that everyone will be saved.
Reverend Nadia Bolz-Weber is a troubled Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor who has grown in popularity within the ELCA ranks. She is highly sought after by ELCA leadership to speak at conferences and gatherings, and to preach to their leaders, members and youth. (see here) Just last week an ELCA website published a letter she had written praising Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson for his leadership.
But there are problems with Rev. Bolz-Weber, big problems. The problems I'm referring to rest in two areas, her teaching/theology, which is non-Biblical in many important areas, and moral issues that she seems to take pride in and actively flaunts.
God tells us what an appointed church leader should look like; He says the leader “must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Tell me if that sounds like Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber as we examine an interview she recently gave -
I guess Rev. Bolz-Weber can blame Jesus for that.
Let's be clear, this stance is not Biblical, but it is espousing universalism, the very dangerous belief that all people will be saved. The Bible says there will be judgment for those who deny Christ or do not have faith in Christ. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.”
As you can read from this interview, Bolz-Weber's “sailor's mouth” is on full display; and I'm not listing all of what she said. (see video here)
Rev. Bolz-Weber is dangerously wrong regarding very important Biblical doctrine and Biblical Truth. (see here, here and here for some more examples) Additionally, this ELCA pastor has a toxic tongue. There is no repentance or evident desire to tame her month. Paul tells us in the truth of scripture, “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” - Ephesians 5:4
Here are two snipits from Rev. Bolz-Weber's Facebook page that show her worldly and bankrupt spiritual state:
What is really telling, with this exposition on Nadia Bolt-Weber, is that this is someone the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has elevated to a place of leadership and authority.
Living Lutheran is an online publication of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Last month, in the “Ask a Pastor” section of their website this question was posed:
“What happens to people of other faiths? My husband and I try to discuss, but not very successfully, the point that we are saved through Jesus Christ alone. Well, how about people of the Jewish faith, or all our friends or family who do not practice any faith or even my son, who is atheist. Can’t they be saved? I believe in my heart that they can, but I can never explain it.”
This question was asked by Helen, a member of an ELCA congregation in Venice, Florida. The ELCA website chose Rev. Monica M. Villarreal as one of the three pastors to respond to this question. She said,
“Dear Helen and husband, what a deep and relevant question. One of my favorite books on the subject is 'Christ Crucified: A 21st-Century Missiology of the Cross' by Mark W. Thomsen. At the risk of being a heretic and with the hope of reclaiming the profound Lutheran understanding of God’s salvific work on the cross, I contend that God in fact saves the whole world and all peoples through Jesus Christ alone and that this salvation extends to all, including Jews, Muslims, agnostics, atheists, etc. For where there is love, there is God. Scripture says, we cannot love God whom we cannot see if we do not love our neighbors whom we can see (1 John 4). At the core of our Christian faith is love. And at the core of God’s work of salvation is love. I believe in a God who loves all his created beings — regardless of religion, creed or disbelief. So, why be a Christian? Christians/Lutherans have much to offer to this hurting world by building relationships of love — the love that we experience in Jesus.”
The ELCA website offered this information about Rev. Villarreal:
“Monica M. Villarreal is a mission redeveloper and pastor of Salem Lutheran Church in Flint, Mich. A 2011 graduate of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and 2007 graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in cultural anthropology and specialization in peace and justice studies, she enjoys practical theology, cultural studies, and is an avid bowler. She is passionate about people, inner-city ministry and social justice. Her congregation will tell you she is always asking, 'What is God up to? What is God calling us to?'” (read the “Ask a Pastor” article here)
That fact that this official ELCA website wanted to include Rev. Vallarreal's answer to Helen's question is proof that the ELCA is “welcoming” of the dangerous, unbiblical belief of universalism. By posting this answer the ELCA is telling their readers that faith and belief in Christ is not necessary. The ELCA is leading people astray and they will be held accountable for any reader's eternal damnation. "If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” - Mark 9:42.
More evidence of the ELCA promoting universalism here and here.
Professors at Wartburg Theological Seminary (ELCA) are known to promote and teach universalism. Dr. Duane Priebe, Professor of Systematic Theology at Wartburg wrote this in the first printing of the Augsburg Fortress Lutheran Study Bible, “Jesus includes in salvation people who do not believe in him or ever know about him (5:3-10; 25:31-45).” page 1658. Wartburg professor Dr. David J. Lull, Professor of New Testament, published an article where he said, "Jesus did not have to die as a condition of God’s forgiveness of sins. Mark knew that Jesus knew that God had always forgiven the sins of 'many/all,' and that God would keep on forgiving their sins." (see here)
Today we will look at and quote from a sermon given at Wartburg Theological Seminary, in the chapel, by Rev. Dr. Craig Nessan. Dr. Nessan is the Academic Dean and Professor of Contextual Theology at the ELCA seminary.
On February 27, 2013, during Dr. Nessan's sermon, he went into a strange diatribe on salvation, saying that some people think they know who will be saved. At one point Dr. Nessan, in my view, seemed to be mocking God with a number of statements including this, “God knows who deserves to live and who deserves to die.” This was Dr. Nessan's way of setting up his view of salvation for those listening (future ELCA pastors).
The scripture readings for Dr. Nessan's sermon came from Luke 13:22-31 and 2 Chronicles 20:1-20, to which he called the later “texts of terror.” Luke 13:29 says, “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” From this verse Dr. Nessan switches to the 2 Chronicles passage concerning the country of Judah and tells the students that the people to the east, west, north and south are the Ammonites, Philistines, Syrians, and Moabites. This was another step in Dr. Nessan's leading his listeners in his universalist way of thinking, by associating these peoples, who worship false-gods, with those who would inherit salvation.
Completing his plan, teaching and leading the seminarians toward universalism, Dr. Nessan refers to Luke 13:24 where Jesus says, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door . . .” and Dr. Nessan concludes, “It makes me wonder, what is the shape of that narrow door? Who gets in if the narrow door is shaped like the cross? Who gets in if its shaped like the 'loaf?' Who gets in if its shaped like the 'cup?' Who gets in when it is given and shed for you, to the east? And given and shed for you to the west? And given and shed for you to the north and to you to the south? Given and shed for all for the forgiveness of sins?” (listen here)
Dr. Nessan failed to proclaim and uphold God's Truth revealed in Scripture. He taught heresy to future pastors and untold lives will be adversely affected because of this. God clearly tells us his plan for salvation and how one is saved. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.” John 1:12 tells us, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (Also see Romans 10:9-10, Romans 3:21, John 8:24.) God tells us we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and it is not Dr. Nessan's dangerous false-doctrine of universalism.
After hearing the sermon, one seminarian on Facebook said, “Chapel at WTS messed me all up today. I think that is a good thing.” Responding to the seminarian's comment, an ELCA pastor said tellingly, "Jesus Christ is present in . . . religions."
_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
Universalism is a teaching that is widely held in the ELCA. (see here) It is very apparent to anyone who isn’t blindly loyal to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church (Richfield, WI) is in the process of voting to leave the ELCA. I would like to direct you to a document they produced in which they answered this question, “Has the ELCA really changed the basic message of the Christian faith?”
Here is Shepherd of the Hills Church's answer:
“While the official teaching of the ELCA is sound,
the actual teaching seen in our seminaries, church
publications, and pronouncements by pastors and
leaders is often very different. Gradually, the ELCA
has de‐emphasized the basic message of sin,
repentance, faith, and salvation through Jesus
Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, and on
Easter, victory over Satan and death (2nd Timothy
1:10). In its place, we read and hear several
One popular ELCA message is the gospel of
affirmation. This teaching suggests that the good
news is that God loves and affirms everyone,
regardless of their faith, life style choices, etc.
There never is a need for real repentance because
God is never angry with us. Another misleading
teaching common in ELCA sources says that Jesus
hgives us the example, and the Holy Spirit gives us
the power, to build the Kingdom of God on earth ‐
‐ by fighting hunger and poverty, promoting
peace, fighting racism, sexism, hetero‐sexism, and
other oppressions, and building brotherhood and
sisterhood on earth by honoring all sincere faiths
as paths to God.
The ELCA has lost focus on our five‐hundred year
old Law/Gospel balance by over‐focusing on the
Gospel (Saved by Grace ‐ Eph. 2:8) at the expense
of the Law (The 10 Commandments). The classic
view is that the Law convicts us of our sin and the
Gospel is the good news that God saves us from
the punishment we deserve by the sacrificial
death of Christ. Grace is defined as “undeserved
love.” Today grace is being redefined to say that
God is always affirming us, and nothing else. This
distorts a biblical understanding of love, where
love includes the “tough love” that prunes our
rebellious hearts into greater Christ‐likeness.
We find evidence for this in the fact that most
ELCA produced Sunday school curriculum,
catechism materials, adult bible studies, the
Lutheran magazine, ELCA website, etc., fail to
plainly explain that we are sinners, doomed to
death, unless we receive Christ with faith. This
shows us that the working theology of the ELCA is
universalism – blanket salvation for everyone,
regardless of whether they know Christ.”
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church will be taking their second vote on leaving the ELCA June 2011.
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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