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
4/3/2015 10:32:37 pm
Much (most?) of the ELCA’s current teaching seems to come straight out of the Barbra Streisand School of Systematic Theology: “Feelings. Nothing more than feelings.” If a Bible truth or a Bible proscription of sin (a) offends my tender sensibilities or (b) doesn’t make sense to my solipsistic self, I chuck it down the Memory Hole. Or if I’m lucky, my “progressive” denomination votes to annul it at a church-wide convention.
4/5/2015 09:11:32 am
Of course, the ELCA should not have dropped the line, "He descended into hell" from the Apostles' Creed. But this omission is hardly proof that the ELCA denies the possibility of damnation. Christ descended into Hades or Sheol (the abode of the dead), not into the lake of fire. See Eph. 4:9, Rev. 20:13-14.
4/6/2015 02:56:29 am
Ivan, the use of Hell in this case is equal to Hades. Hell can be both the abode of the dead, or Gehenna, so dropping "He descended into hell" is more than a little suspicious. Just look at St. John Chrysostom's Paschal Homily read in the Orthodox Church during Pascha, in Greek he uses Hades, but more often than not Hades is translated to Hell. Everyone knows we are talking in this instance about the lake of fire, but the realm of Death.
4/6/2015 04:25:04 pm
Did you mean to say, "...we are talking in this instance NOT about the lake of fire, but the realm of Death" ?
4/14/2015 07:20:57 am
Yes! I did mean to say "not about the lake of fire.." Sorry for the confusion.
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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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