Today we will look at and quote from a sermon given at Wartburg Theological Seminary, in the chapel, by Rev. Dr. Craig Nessan. Dr. Nessan is the Academic Dean and Professor of Contextual Theology at the ELCA seminary.
On February 27, 2013, during Dr. Nessan's sermon, he went into a strange diatribe on salvation, saying that some people think they know who will be saved. At one point Dr. Nessan, in my view, seemed to be mocking God with a number of statements including this, “God knows who deserves to live and who deserves to die.” This was Dr. Nessan's way of setting up his view of salvation for those listening (future ELCA pastors).
The scripture readings for Dr. Nessan's sermon came from Luke 13:22-31 and 2 Chronicles 20:1-20, to which he called the later “texts of terror.” Luke 13:29 says, “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” From this verse Dr. Nessan switches to the 2 Chronicles passage concerning the country of Judah and tells the students that the people to the east, west, north and south are the Ammonites, Philistines, Syrians, and Moabites. This was another step in Dr. Nessan's leading his listeners in his universalist way of thinking, by associating these peoples, who worship false-gods, with those who would inherit salvation.
Completing his plan, teaching and leading the seminarians toward universalism, Dr. Nessan refers to Luke 13:24 where Jesus says, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door . . .” and Dr. Nessan concludes, “It makes me wonder, what is the shape of that narrow door? Who gets in if the narrow door is shaped like the cross? Who gets in if its shaped like the 'loaf?' Who gets in if its shaped like the 'cup?' Who gets in when it is given and shed for you, to the east? And given and shed for you to the west? And given and shed for you to the north and to you to the south? Given and shed for all for the forgiveness of sins?” (listen here)
Dr. Nessan failed to proclaim and uphold God's Truth revealed in Scripture. He taught heresy to future pastors and untold lives will be adversely affected because of this. God clearly tells us his plan for salvation and how one is saved. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.” John 1:12 tells us, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (Also see Romans 10:9-10, Romans 3:21, John 8:24.) God tells us we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and it is not Dr. Nessan's dangerous false-doctrine of universalism.
After hearing the sermon, one seminarian on Facebook said, “Chapel at WTS messed me all up today. I think that is a good thing.” Responding to the seminarian's comment, an ELCA pastor said tellingly, "Jesus Christ is present in . . . religions."