2400+ ELCA Leaders Sign Letter Supporting Evolution and Rejecting Truth of Creation
(Updated March 2018 - Original blog was written March, 2011)
One would think that ELCA pastors, bishops and teachers would believe Scripture. However all one has to do is read, “The Clergy Letter - from American Christian clergy: An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science,” to find that most do not.
Over 2400 ELCA leaders signed this letter which states,
“the overwhelming majority (of Christians) do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth.”
Make no mistake, what these Christian leaders are saying is that they do not believe what the Bible actually says. They are calling the story about creation, Adam and Eve, and Noah’s ark, lies. These ELCA leaders think they know better than Jesus, the Old and New Testament writers, and 2000 years of Christians, who knew these stories to be true. (read more here)
The letter goes on to say, “We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as ‘one theory among others’ is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children.”
Really? So those that believe God’s account of creation, are “ignorant?” Maybe these religious elites should read from the following website of the many scientists who are skeptical of Darwinism. (read here and download the list of scientists who signed "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.")
The Clergy letter also says, “We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris.”
Let me get this straight, now these “Christian” leaders, who say that the Biblical account of creation is not true, are now telling us that if we believe God’s account of creation we are REJECTING God’s Will?
Finally the letter says, “We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge.” (read here)
Here are “Christian” leaders urging school boards to have the teaching of evolution be a “core component of HUMAN knowledge.” These are the people teaching us and our children about Jesus and the Bible?
Someone may ask, “What’s the big deal?” “Who cares if ELCA leaders and pastors don’t believe what the Bible says about creation?”
Here are a few quotes that highlight why we should care:
"More cases of loss of religious faith can be traced to the theory of evolution--- than anything else." - Martin Lings, quoted in Christian Century July, 1982
“Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.” - Noted evolutionist, Professor Will Provine, in “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life.”
"Any creationist lawyer who got me on the stand could instantly win over the jury simply by asking me: 'Has your knowledge of evolution influenced you in the direction of becoming an atheist?' I would have to answer yes and, at one stroke, I would have lost the jury." - Noted evolutionist, Dr. Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2008) p. 93
While I was studying at an ELCA seminary, the Dean of Students told me that not one ELCA seminary professor in the United States believes Adam and Eve were real people. I have no doubt that statement is true. Sadly, seminary professors’ beliefs are being picked up by their students, who are the current and future ELCA pastors.
Linked at the end of this blog is the list of current and retired ELCA pastors, ELCA seminary professors, ELCA college professors, ELCA seminary presidents and ELCA Bishops who agree with this letter and signed it. Some of the notable signers are: Bishop Tom Aitken (Northeastern Minnesota Synod), The Rev. Hans R. Arnesen (Associate to the Bishop of the New England Synod), Bishop Allan Bjornberg (ELCA Rocky Mountain Synod), Bishop Paul J. Blom - Houston, Texas, Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, The Rev. Stacy Boorn (herchurch), The Rev. Michael Cooper-White, D.D., (President - Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, PA), The Rev. Jean DeVoll-Donaldson (Assistant to the Bishop/Director for Evangelical Mission Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod), Bishop Ralph W. Dunkin (West Virginia -Western Maryland Synod), The Rev. James Kenneth Echols, Ph.D. (President - Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago), The Rev. Paul W. Egertson, Ph.D. (Bishop Emeritus - Southwest California Synod), The Rev. Jim Hazelwood (Bishop of the New England Synod), The Rev. Anita C. Hill, The Rev. B. Penrose Hoover (Bishop - Lower Susquehanna Synod), The Rev. Robert L. Isaksen, (Retired ELCA Pastor and Bishop of the New England Synod), The Rev. Jeff R. Johnson, Kevin S. Kanouse, (Bishop Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod), Paul R. Landahl (Bishop Metropolitan Chicago Synod), Bishop April Ulring Larson (La Crosse Area Synod), The Rev. Duane H. Larson, PhD., (President - Wartburg Theological Seminary), The Rev. Felipe Lozada-Montanez (Bishop of the Caribbean Synod of the ELCA), Bishop Brian D.Maas (Nebraska Synod - ELCA), Bishop John S. Macholz (Upstate New York Synod - ELCA), The Rev. Dr. Gerald L. Mansholt (Bishop Central States Synod), The Rev. Robert W. Mattheis (Bishop Emeritus, Sierra Pacific Synod), The Rev. George Paul Mocko (Bishop Emeritus, Delaware-Maryland Synod), Bishop David G. Mullen (Sierra Pacific Synod), Bishop Dean W. Nelson (Southwest California Synod), Bishop Margaret G. Payne (New England Synod), The Rev. Dr. Ted Peters (Interim President - Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary), The Rev. Dr. Jerry L. Schmalenberger (Retired President - Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary), Rev. Robin J. Steinke, Ph.D. (President Luther Seminary), Bishop David R. Strobel (Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod), The Rev. Dr. Christopher M. Thomforde (President - St. Olaf College), Bishop Ron Warren (ELCA Southeastern Synod), The Rev. Dr. Howard E. Wennes (Retired Bishop ELCA), The Rev. Paul M. Werger, (Bishop Emeritus - Southeastern Iowa Synod), The Rev. Eric G. Wolf(Assistant to the Bishop of the South Carolina Synod, ELCA), The Rev. Dr. Herman Yoos (Bishop - South Carolina Synod) and Bishop David B. Zellmer (South Dakota Synod).
More than 14500 American pastors signed this letter and over 2400 of them are Evangelical Lutheran Church in America leaders.
Here is a list of all the ELCA leaders who signed the Clergy letter.
To read more about creation, intelligent design or evolution see:
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3/9/2011 01:27:50 am
These ELCA pastors should stay out of fields of science beyond their competency. I bet none of them could answer the question: "Has the earth existed long enough for a new folded protein to evolve?" If you don't know the answer to that question, you can't take the stance they have taken. What's going on here is more about their arrogance than a dialogue about the current state of knowledge in the fields of physics, microbiology and mathematics as they relate to the issues of creationism, evolution and intelligent design. The more I learn about the positions of so-called "progressive" Christians, the more I realize they are quite ignorant on many matters of science and public policy. They compensate for that ignorance by using political tools (like this letter) to declare that facts and theories in contradiction to their uninformed beliefs are not to be considered.
1/5/2013 12:59:29 am
Jim-- You hit the nail right on the head!
9/12/2013 05:12:10 am
I totally agree with Jim. I also find it to be quiet exposing that they are very willing to sign a document that expresses clearly what they "Do Not Believe", yet cannot put together a comprehensive rebuttal of what they do believe. When it comes to that argument, they list what looks like good imagery and political correctness.
Pastor Jeff Forbes
5/21/2018 11:30:43 am
No, sorry, you've been hit on the head. In this day and age, I just can't believe that a 6th century B.C. hijacked Babylonian creation story picked up by a small displaced population of captives could even be debated about in our post-modern, scientific age. And yes, I was a biologist before becoming a pastor so don't pull any more self-aggrandizing "I know more than you do" stunts.
5/22/2018 02:02:36 pm
One doesn’t have to get into “6th century B.C. 'hijacked' Babylonian creation stories" to address evolution. It’s not really a matter of Genesis (even if stylized as a “hijacked Babylonian creation story") v. evolution. Don’t even go there. It’s a matter of evolution standing on its own. If this guy is a biologist, then let’s hear the biological evidence for evolution without dissing, or even mentioning, Scripture. “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” so Mr. “I was a biologist,” don’t pull any more self-aggrandizing “I know more than you do” stunts and lay out the biological evidence for evolution. There is plenty of biological evidence that augurs against evolution, but let’s hear the biological support for it, go on…. You’re evidently not in favor of what you regard as mythology, so let’s hear something about evolution that has real biological supporting teeth and isn't just a materialist myth. If there is anything in what is known about biology that suggests or supports evolution ("evolution" defined as "unguided natural forces causing chemicals to combine in such a way that life resulted; and that all living things have descended from that common ancestral form of life"), it will be news to all of us. As we learned in Logic 101, "One can't prove a negative." The burden is on the proponent. So go ahead, make evolution's claim. Only two other rules: 1) you can't diss any Babylonian creation stories, hijacked or not (that would be totally irrelevant). Evolution has got to stand on its own feet-- if it can, and 2) any "evidence" that, when the façade is taken away, can be stripped down to "we've observed either variety or similarity" doesn't count. Over to you.....
5/22/2018 03:17:43 pm
Oh, one more rule: stating that a lot of people with advanced degrees working at prestigious institutions have defined science to mean "whatever a lot of people with advanced degrees working at prestigious institutions call 'science,' is science"and, on that basis call "evolution" "science" and, therefore, believe it really happened as they say, also doesn't count as evidence. That is to re-define science and to put evolution up by its re-defined "scientific" bootstraps.
Janet Y Muldoon
3/10/2011 01:50:12 am
The Bible gives instruction as how to test whether a person is a Christian or not. A true Christian can tell you with absolute certainty that Jesus Christ is the true son of God. How is it that students are even admitted to the seminaries if they are not confirmed Christians?
5/26/2011 05:40:35 pm
Hermann Sasse wrote in an article called, "The Lie in the Church" that once an organization institutionalizes its lies, it's lost. The ELCA is lost. St. Paul would ask you to mark and avoid this organization of deceived and deceiving false teachers who cause such evil dissension in the church. This organization is no more salvageable than the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Rev. David William Krause, Ph.D.
10/8/2012 09:37:06 am
"The Creation Book" is my contribution to creation-not-evolution. Taking over 725 passages from Scripture, I show overwhelming evidence for the six-day creation. Book is available from Tate Publishing, Mustang, Oklahoma, Amazon, and/or myself. Also my timeline of the first 22 patriarchs can be ordered from me. The flood came 1,656 years after the creation of Adam.
6/30/2013 08:20:17 am
This Elca church is lost. What do they base their faith on now that they have denounced the Bible. This is why I left the church. So sad some of these Pastors are very old and will soon meet their Lord. What will they say to Him.
8/24/2016 01:51:40 pm
They will not recognize Him.
3/3/2015 08:38:32 am
These ELCA people need to take "Lutheran" out of their title. They also need to take the word Christian out of their beliefs system. Even Muslims believe the Bible (at least until the time of Moses) as fact.
3/27/2018 04:59:14 pm
The only accuracy in their name is “in America “!
7/19/2015 06:41:55 am
I too left the ELCA because I saw repeated steps they took away from the truth taught in scripture. Women as pastors, homosexual pastors, now acceptance of marrying gays and lesbians, and now this--- denying the miracle of God creating the world out of nothing. Theological liberalism (actually unbelief) crept into this church a long time ago. The ELCA fruit is evidence that they are no longer a church of Jesus Christ.
10/25/2015 11:37:28 am
We in the WELS believe the Bible is the inspired, innerant Word of God, and all the Lutheran Confession are a true exposition of that Word. Why not join a true Lutheran Church that faithfully confesses
9/26/2019 11:22:07 am
Where can I find this Church in Green Bay Wi
Rev. Jeff Forbes
10/28/2015 10:49:05 am
I am proud to be an ELCA pastor and not living in the stone age. If you don't believe that evolution is true, then at least be consistent-- throw away your toaster and microwave, give away your car and turn off your electricity! Evolution, like the theories of electro-magnetism, spectrum analysis, chemical reactions and atomic "theory" are all based on scientific research.
10/28/2015 11:36:44 am
Thank you, ELCA pastor Forbes for sharing your thoughts. You can believe that life came from rocks and rain mixing together, that a microscopic organism turned into a elephant, that you are smarter than God, that your interpretation of evidence is the only acceptable interpretation, if you want. I hope all of your congregation, who pays your salary, also knows what you believe and that you stand against what God (and good science) says.
10/31/2015 09:01:26 pm
Mr. Forbes.... I truly feel sorry for you. Jesus plainly stated that it would be better for a millstone to be tied around the neck of one who leads His children astray. And then cast into the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6 paraphrased)
11/8/2016 04:05:24 pm
Pastor Forbes needs our prayers. He seems to not understand that evolution is only theory. It is not proven. It is not based on scientific data. Many Christian scientists complain that evolution is taught in our schools to be logical and factual. It is not! It cannot be verified by science at all. Sorry, Pastor Forbes, you information is not reliable.
11/9/2016 01:43:19 pm
I am a Christian and a scientist. I do not see how the two cannot work together to explain the same thing. You mentioned theories like evolution as being unprovable and not based on scientific data or evidence. To the first I agree, for there can never be a definitive proof in science. As to the second I heartedly disagree. Take for instance the theory of relativity by Einstein. Based on his theory there is no “Law of Gravity" as the 17th century alchemist Isaac Newton thought. Gravity is not based solely on mass but more importantly on the curvature of space. Science changes as more data is accumulated. Evolution has obviously passed the test for relavant data, otherwise, it would not or could not even be considered by the scientific community—a community that checkfacts everything! As to Scripture, Martin Luther once wrote that' "The Bible has a wax nose; you can twist it whichever way you want!" ("Against the Papacy in Rome" LW 39) I think what he means by that is that we can twist Scripture to support our own biases and prejudices. Maybe more of a sense of humilty is needed in theological circles so we don’t become Pharisees and judge other people as loved less by God if they disagree with us and our twisted noses!
4/16/2018 09:28:33 am
I'd be a bit careful about: Evolution has obviously passed the test for relavant data, otherwise, it would not or could not even be considered by the scientific community—a community that checkfacts everything!
11/23/2019 11:00:22 pm
Well, Mr Forbes - it stands out to me that you have dropped your title of "Reverend" in your last entry.
11/9/2016 01:58:24 pm
I just want to say thank you, Dan, for starting this blog. I find it stimulating and important. I thank you also for publishing all the names of those who electronically signed the document. No one should be left out! I must admit there are some things in the ELCA that I greatly disagree with, based on Scripture, but Evolution is not one of them. I think you would agree with me that the ELCA is definitely headed in the wrong direction, and I think it started with CCM in '88. I voted "no" on that by the way and joined Word Alone.
11/15/2016 04:42:40 pm
Regarding Pastor Forbes comments: Indeed, Malcolm Muggeridge was a communist early in life. But he finally grew-up. He was very anti-communist later in life. He became an outspoken Christian who published many books on the Christian faith.
11/24/2016 10:24:23 am
One more comment about evolution verses creation: Digging through old files has surfaced an article in a local paper from The Associated Press titled, World's Top Atheist Says He Now Believes. Let me quote two short paragraphs: "A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God – more or less – based on scientific evidence . . ..
10/7/2017 11:30:20 pm
This Month we are "celebrating" the 500th year of the advent of the Reformation. Key issues then were the lifting the cloud of untruth and superstition in favor of the truth of the whole word of God. How strange it seems that these 1500 Lutheran Spartans (charlatans) have taken a stand between God and Man pointing to themselves as their authority and not to God; a reformation in reverse. False teachers! "Blind guides"! You turn us from Love back to hate, from
1/15/2018 11:00:44 pm
Dan, can you check the link of the ELCA pastors that signed this. Error pops up. Could be me. Thank you for your work, it’s tricky business I am sure to keep up with turning up rocks to expose these heresies to the light. Thank you.
1/16/2018 10:54:31 am
Thank you, Christopher, for the heads up on the link that needed fixing! I believe it will work now. I have been updating this list over the last year and will give an current total of ELCA leaders who signed the letter in the near future.
3/27/2018 08:26:10 pm
I can't fathom evolution from a mathematical standpoint. To me, the odds against it make it downright preposterous.
3/27/2018 09:51:01 pm
LAW of thermodynamics. Gotta love autocorrect.
3/27/2018 08:46:27 pm
I have been critical that on our church website under what we believe it says "coming soon". I now understand the reason for this is that our ELCA beliefs keep changing and so it is hard to keep up on it's beliefs or should I say dis beliefs. How long before they sign a letter refuting the resurrection of our Lord.
2/2/2019 03:44:58 pm
I grew up in an Augustana Synod Lutheran Church, started by Swedish immigrants almost 145 years ago. One of the signers of the church constitution was my great great grandfather. My ancestors were tireless workers in the church, particularly in Sunday school. The Augustana pastors were true men of God, dedicated to their calling. Then in the 1960's Augustana merged with other Lutheran bodies to become LCA and later the ELCA. Since then my home church has seen a slow but steady decline in the caliber of ministers the seminary is turning out. Some pastors were okay, others were not. One of the married pastors in my home church provided "more than counseling" to a woman estranged from her husband. Another spent half his time as a talk radio host instead of working full-time for the church. Now I am shocked to find that one of the pastors who signed "the letter" regarding Adam and Eve, the Ark, etc. spent some of his formative years in MY home church, when his father was the pastor there. No wonder the ELCA is losing so many churches and members.
6/25/2020 07:16:05 am
I think Hank Hanegraaff in the Bible Answer Book answers the question : Can we be certain that evolution is a myth?
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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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