Does the ELCA Believe in Hell?
(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)
2/13/2014 05:22:10 am
If it is believed that every one who dies goes to heaven, there is not need to believe that hell exists. However, we are not to be the judge of who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. That role is for God alone. He will come to judge the living and the dead. That is my take on it.
2/14/2014 06:17:17 am
If everyone goes to heaven, regardless of the individual's moral character, how would this "heaven" populated by unrestrained scoundrels and criminals be any different from hell?
2/24/2014 10:11:19 am
Hold on, folks. There are some very kind atheists whom I know, who are headed for eternal punishment. And there are Christians whom I know, who struggle with anger management issues. We're all scoundrels, sinners by nature. Only those trusting in Christ, covered by His Righteousness, by His grace alone, shall be saved. All our personal righteousness, all our good deeds, are tainted with sin.
3/8/2014 06:57:13 am
But the Bible tells us that in heaven, thieves do NOT break in and steal (Matthew 6:20).
The Rev. George T. Rahn
3/15/2014 01:09:23 pm
From The Gospel of St. John 5: Jesus says, "...for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice
11/19/2017 04:15:20 am
I am a member as well as Council member and Vice President of a small Lutheran Church in the upstate area of SC presently a member congregation of the ELCA. I am extremely concerned over the direction that the ELCA appears to be moving, one more towards worldliness and away from Christ-centered, biblically sound theology and teaching in line with the truth of the Gospel, the good news initiated by the Father, completed fully in Christ and in Christ alone, and spread throughout the world by the leading of the Holy Spirt moving and working in and through all belonging to Jesus Christ all for the glory of our triune God. Salvation is not of any human work but divinely given by God’s great mercy and grace through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. God’s gracious gift of salvation, forgiveness of sin, declaration of righteousness, justification and redemption is realized in the life of a Christian though faith alone in the One who saves, Christ Jesus our Lord by unmerited grace.
1/21/2019 01:59:01 pm
Yes, brother, I share your concern. I was involved at many levels in several ELCA churches for almost 20 years. I finally left the ELCA in February of last year.
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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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