(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)
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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