Today I talked with an elderly Lutheran woman who left her church because it hired a lesbian pastor who has a partner. The church is not far from where I live, and I went to its website to see what such a pastor would preach. The website says it is a progressive church, then says (repeatedly) how much they welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The elderly woman had told me that her last visit to her church was when they were celebrating "Gender Identity Sunday".
In her blog the pastor begins by quoting Jonathan Edwards' famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and then says:
"His words and approach do not represent the God of love that I follow, just like we don’t beat our children in the shed anymore...As for Hell, Hell isn’t a place. It’s an experience: Hell is what the families in Flint Michigan are going through. Hell is a child going to bed hungry, their parents frantic and broken not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Hell is hoping the war in the Middle East doesn’t claim more children-our children. Hell is standing at the border of an unfamiliar country, holding a sick child, only to be turned away."
She is wrong. Jesus talked about Hell as a place where there will be "eternal punishment" (Matthew 25:46). In fact, Jesus talks more about Hell than anyone else in the New Testament. And the Bible teaches that people who live in impenitent sin, including fornication, idolatry, drunkenness, homosexuality, etc., will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Perhaps the pastor has a vested interest in denying the reality of Hell.
The elderly woman I spoke to was upset that the ELCA synod leadership promoted this person to become the pastor of her church. Not too many years ago, someone living in impenitent sin would be lovingly challenged to turn from sin, and if they refused they could be excommunicated. Instead today such people are made pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The good news is the elderly woman has found a very biblical Lutheran Church that she now loves.
In Jesus our Savior,
Pastor Tom Brock