(The following article was written by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and twitter - here.)
Those two phrases are used by some congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to show that they are pro-homosexual and pro-transgender. Salem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis is not far from where I live, but I can tell from its website that it is a church I could never attend. Some excerpts:
"We welcome all because God welcomes all, regardless of age, race or culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, or relationship status.... We see God reflected in the faces around us and we are an RIC congregation (Reconciling in Christ). (Note: RIC is a church that blesses homosexual behavior).
Everything about Salem centers around the same hospitality that Jesus practiced-- one of radical inclusion and extravagantly expressed love. For many of us, our core beliefs are also expressed via the eight points of progressive Christianity. By calling ourselves progressive Christians, we mean we are Christians who take the bible seriously but not literally. As sacred text it guides and informs our lives. These, combined with our confession of a triune God (Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit), make us uniquely Lutheran and uniquely Salem."
A few thoughts.
Is Jesus "radically inclusive" and "extravagantly welcoming?" Jesus says to certain people on the Last Day "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the lake of eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels... (Matthew 25:41)". That is not "radical welcome". Jesus also tells the Church to exclude those who refuse to repent of sin (Matthew 18:17). Again, no "extravagant inclusivity" here.
Salem Lutheran claims to take the Bible "seriously, but not literally". But notice, Salem's website calls the Trinity "Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit", whereas Jesus referred to the "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). My guess is that Salem changed the names of the Trinity to get rid of masculine pronouns for God. Tampering with the Bible's language for God is not "taking the Bible seriously."
Certainly, it is wonderfully true that Jesus welcomes all kinds of sinners, but to what does he welcome them? He welcomes us to a life of repentance from sin and faith toward Him. He does not welcome us to continue down a path that hurts us and dishonors Him.
In Jesus our Savior,
Pastor Tom Brock
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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