Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The ELCA Inquisition

The leadership of the ELCA has been driven to reinvent Scripture and to reconstruct traditional Lutheran doctrine to mirror current secular ideology in their misguided attempt to modernize the Word to draw in a more diverse membership. The new doctrine of bound conscience, adopted just one year ago, has already been redefined to apply to only those that “toe the line” with the ELCA’s new and improved interpretation of Scripture. As their progressive scholars bend, staple and mutilate Scripture to advance their worldly desires, the leadership has reached back into the past. It seems that this wayward denomination, so enamored with becoming the modern and accepting end all to a new form of Lutheranism, has harkened back to the Dark Ages, and has re-established the “Inquisition”. This new hard line approach has many ELCA pastors afraid to even discuss this false gospel promoted by the leadership of the ELCA with their respective congregations. ELCA pastors that adhere to and proclaim the Scripture as God’s Word and infer in any way that the ELCA’s new doctrine is contrary to our Lord’s intent, are facing discipline, including the threat of expulsion and loss of their standing with the church.

As more congregations vote to sever ties with the ELCA, more are challenged by the Synod Bishops on the procedures and standards used when conducting those votes. The ELCA leadership is making more attempts to confiscate the properties of those congregations voting to leave. Grants made years ago to congregations are being required to be repaid. The ELCA constitution rules have been changed, preventing congregations from amending their congregational constitutions without instituting all the new policies on human sexuality and pastoral standards. Congregations will be expected to honor and are required to report to the ELCA on the progress of their implementation of these new standards. While the leaders tout the ELCA as so very accepting, tolerant, and welcoming to everyone, they are nothing of the sort to those that remain true to God’s Word.

On July 25, 2010 seven gay and lesbian pastors, including the first transgendered Lutheran pastor in the US were ordained, officiated by, not one, but three ELCA Bishops. In this service, the Lord’s Prayer took on a completely new form. Reported in the August 2010 Lutheran Core Newsletter, the new Lord’s Prayer was recited publicly in the following manner, “Our Mother who is within us, we celebrate your many names, your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us. Each day you give us what we need. You remind us of our limits and we let go. You support us in our power and we act in courage. For you are the dwelling place within us, and the celebration among us, now and forever. Amen.” Brothers and sisters, this is not the prayer that our Lord taught His Disciples and not what you were taught in Sunday School and confirmation classes. Any church that promotes this type of reshaping of the faith that our Lord calls upon us, is not following our Lord’s command. By becoming the central emphasis in this perverted version of the Lord’s Prayer, man has indeed placed himself as god and relegated our Lord to a secondary role. When we place ourselves above our Lord, we break His First Commandment to us and, in fact, worship ourselves, our identities, and our accomplishments.

This progressive minority that has hijacked our faith from within the ELCA must be defeated. It has been obvious that the leadership of the ELCA has been on a deliberate course to rewrite Scripture and force upon their membership their vision of the perfect religion. Unfortunately this new version places man and his opinion on a higher plane than God. This is not something that has happened overnight. The leadership of the ELCA has been very cunning and calculated in this over two decade’s long crusade to replace God’s Word with a more modern and all accepting new religion. As with the radical Islamists, the leadership has been very patient, waiting for just the right time to foist this false gospel upon its membership. Those that have been compelled to dwell in the Word are finally realizing what has transpired within the ELCA. Romans 8:9, “You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but are in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” For those that belong to Christ, the time is now to act and leave this misguided denomination behind, awash in their heretical teachings. Pray for those trapped, unaware of the deception within the ELCA and those that choose to remain out of the misguided notion of not breaking the unity of the church. We are united in Christ, not in the church, and there is far too little emphasis on Christ in the ELCA. Pray that those pastors that are afraid are inspired and given courage by the Holy Spirit to speak out and inform their congregations so that their eyes may be opened to see how the leaders of the ELCA have betrayed their faith. Pray that somehow the leadership of the ELCA will return to God’s Word and abandon this ill-advised assault on Scripture.  Do not forget our brothers and sisters that remain in the ELCA and continue to reach out to them in Christian love, continually praying for their deliverance from the false gospel perpetrated by the leadership of the ELCA.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tough Love

Is the ELCA evil? Absolutely not! Is the ELCA misguided? Absolutely. But the reasons they are misguided are not as clear as one would care to admit. Those leading the ELCA are using a different tact in an attempt to do God’s work. They attempt to reach out to the world by doing good works in an effort to spread God’s love. What tends to get lost in the translation is that we are called do God’s work to fulfill his commission, that is, to preach the Good News and make disciples of all nations, or to bring people to God. So much about the ELCA is tied in to God’s love. This misguided attempt to spread God’s love prompts the ELCA to amend Scripture to be more welcoming, tolerant, and accepting. Part of being a Christian is denying oneself in order to place our Lord at the center of our lives. Where the ELCA has it wrong is that we need to come to God, He has already come to us and offered us His grace through the sacrifice of His Son. We need to hear the Word and make that decision to turn our lives over to our Lord. Then we will truly learn how to share His love. Changing the tenets of and watering down our faith to make it easier and more attractive does nothing to save the souls of those thirsting for the answer that is our risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jesus wasn’t always such a nice guy. He wasn’t all about love and healing the sick and lame. Luke 12: 49-53, Jesus said, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Jesus explains that following Him will be the cause of much division.  He also addresses God’s judgment as fire on earth for the wicked. He differentiates between those that are righteous and those that are separated from God by their lack of belief and actions. It is not easy to be His disciple. Much sacrifice is necessary and it will cause division among family members when they are no longer first in our hearts when we accept the truth that is Christ Jesus. The cost of being a disciple is high. Jesus said in Luke 14: 26-27, 33“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even life itself – such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you cannot be my disciples.” We must love Jesus more than anything, including life itself. We must completely surrender ourselves to His will.

The prevailing winds in the ELCA are leading toward the doctrine of universalism, or that there are many paths to God and salvation. This means that they question the very foundation of our faith.  Our Lord and Savior gave His life so that we can live eternally with our Father. In John 14:6, Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In John 11:25-26, He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” There is only one path to our salvation and that is through our faith in the Risen Christ. There is no other way to the Father except through our faith that Jesus Christ suffered and died as a final atonement for our sin. Without that absolute faith, not even our love of each other, our good works in the world, and our welcoming, tolerance and acceptance of everyone, will lead us on a path to salvation.

Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to love one another as He loves us. Our faith comes with a cost. We are freely justified by God and granted salvation by simply accepting the truth that is the Risen Christ. When we believe, we will gladly give up everything. The most important thing in our life will be our faith and the command to go out and make disciples of the world. The very core of our Christian faith is diluted when the ELCA minimizes our Lord’s role in the church while it emphasizes and celebrates man's opinion, reason and imperfect love. Without Jesus at the center of our lives we will be unable to accomplish our Lord's command that we love one another as our He loves us. That means engaging in some tough love and not reinterpreting Scripture so that anything goes in order to prove our love, acceptance and tolerance of everyone. Jesus is first and foremost.  Grace is freely offered, but we must come to Him to accept it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Correction;God's Will Professed

Our Lord said in Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” How do we accomplish our Lord’s call to proclaim His great commission without judging hypocritically or acting self righteously? We are called, as disciples of Christ, to reach out to our brothers and sisters and lead them to the Gospel of our Lord. This also includes leading those back to the Lord who are trapped by, following or teaching false doctrine. But, we must be careful to reach out in true Christian love to help lead those in error back to the Lord. It is a fine line that differentiates true Christian love from self righteous judgment.

When we truly believe and accept that Jesus Christ is our Savior, we will be filled with the Holy Spirit. We will deny ourselves and place our Lord’s requirements as the driving force in our lives. Our very lives will revolve around pleasing our Lord and following His commands. We will minimize our self and place our relationship with our Lord as the most important thing in our lives. Martin Luther said, “This is the reason why our theology is certain: it snatches us away from ourselves and places us outside ourselves, so that we do not depend on our own strength, conscience, experience, person, or works, but depend on that which is outside ourselves, that is, on the promise and truth of God, which cannot deceive.” When we truly deny ourselves and love our Lord, we will want to do whatever we can to please Him. Every aspect of our lives will be guided by the desire to fulfill our love for the Lord. Once we truly become a disciple of Christ, we will no longer be, conservative or liberal, gay or straight, black or white. Our identity will be fulfilled as a Christians and we will joyfully conduct our lives as our Lord commands in His Word.

There are those within the ELCA that are truly filled with the Spirit and want nothing more than to reach out to the world in Christian love. But, there are also those that accept and advocate for the errant doctrine that is currently promoted by the ELCA. The leaders of the ELCA and their Biblical scholars are attempting to lead believers astray by promoting the social justice agenda as the good works that God calls us to perform, but are, in fact, guided by man's imperfect love, not God's perfect love. The ELCA continues to minimize the role of faith and diminishes the role of preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. ELCA theology has strayed from the Word and has given in to the secular world, which is the dominion of the evil one. Much of the new theology taught and promoted by the ELCA is not true to Scripture, but takes man’s opinion, experience, and traditions and places them in authority over Scripture. They even question the very tenets of our faith, including casting doubt upon the Virgin birth of Jesus, the resurrection of our Lord, and the divinity of Christ. Virgin birth Resurrection Divinity of Christ

Many are trapped in the ELCA and are unaware of this errant doctrine. Many are not questioning the motives and message that is being promoted and taught. After all, most trust that their church would not lead them astray, since it is the responsibility of the church to maintain and teach proper doctrine. Those of us that see through this deception have the responsibility to reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ to open their eyes and show them that they are being deceived by the very church in which they place their trust. We must speak out against this wayward denomination before more believers fall prey to this false gospel. We must pray that those led astray dwell in the Word and recognize that this doctrine is not of God, but of man. The evidence against the ELCA is plainly posted on their own website. We only have to click on the links to learn where this denomination is heading, and it is far away from our Lord. The Apostle Paul has advice for those that would embrace what the ELCA is teaching, 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Faith will Save. Love can Deceive

Faith is the complete trust that Jesus Christ redeemed all humanity by sacrificing himself as atonement for our sin and that by believing that He is the only Son of God and was raised from the dead, we will receive the grace that grants us eternal life with our Lord. Love is the strong affection one has for another arising out of kinship, personal ties, admiration, or devotion. Often the differences between these aspects of our relationship with our Lord tend to become blurred. Faith is the way to our salvation. Imperfect love can lead in the opposite direction.

True faith in the risen Christ is not only believing that Jesus Christ is truly the son of God, who carried our sins to the cross, took the punishment that we deserved, and defeated death so that we may live, true faith requires us to give up our lives for Him. In order to be our Lord’s disciples, we must turn over control of our lives and live as our Lord commands. Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through who we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Through our faith in the risen Christ, we have a new relationship with God. We no longer are the sinful beings that deserve God’s wrath and punishment. We are granted, by His grace, the total forgiveness of all sin and an invitation to join our Lord in His house. The chasm between God and His children has been bridged by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When we first believe in the risen Christ, our hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit. When we believe and place Christ first in our hearts, we will no longer be alone. We will want to please our Lord and live in a manner that He commands.

Our Lord has a perfect love for His children. No matter what wrongs we do, sins we commit, the times we disregard God’s Word or fail to return our Lord’s unconditional love, He will love us and always offer His redeeming grace if we only believe. There is no earthly sin that will cause our Lord to retract that gift of grace and our salvation, as long as we truly accept Christ. So does this mean that we can live our lives regardless of the law? No, it still remains as God’s moral and ethical design for His children. Once the law was all important, and God’s punishment for those that violated the law was severe. Since Jesus Christ suffered and died as atonement for our sin, adherence to the law is no longer necessary to ensure our salvation. With Christ as the cornerstone of our lives and first in our hearts, we will gladly abide by God’s command and obey the law He has set before us.

It is when we try to share our love as our Lord loves us, without first surrendering ourselves to Him, that we will fail, often times, miserably. Using our imperfect love will cause us to make decisions that we ourselves believe to be right without truly considering our Lord’s will. While that it is true that our God loves all of His children, unconditionally, He also expects us to obey His law for us. Often, when one searches for a way to justify a particular end, the path to the true conclusion is often overlooked. Trying to find a path to that predetermined destination will often propel us on a course leading away from our Lord’s will. We need look no farther than the ELCA. By trying to be everything to everyone and elevating worldly aspirations over our Lord’s will, the ELCA has actually hindered their efforts to share God’s love in the world. In fact, the ELCA has so perverted their attempt to share God’s love that they promote the social justice agenda over and above the call to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is when we place the love of ourselves and our agenda first, and consign our Lord to a secondary position, that our imperfect love will ultimately deceive. Romans 16:17-18, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of na├»ve people.”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sound Doctrine?

The ELCA continues to question the validity of Scripture and how it pertains to the current age, most recently adopting doctrine to accept practicing gay clergy and allowing ELCA churches to bless gay unions. While some may disagree with this action, this is not a matter that affects the salvation of the individual that accepts this new doctrine. All of God’s children are welcome to accept Christ and receive the grace of God, no matter what their sin. And further, we must love and accept our brothers and sisters in Christ, because we all fall short of the glory of God. Bound conscience though, is another matter. This new doctrine, invented by the scholars and leaders of the ELCA, will have far ranging consequences for those that accept this doctrinal change. This errant doctrine disregards many of the tenets of our Lutheran faith. Martin Luther, in the Augsburg Confession, see Augsburg Confession, stated in Article II, Original Sin, “3) They condemn……who, to obscure the glory of Christ’s merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and wisdom.” The doctrine of bound conscience allows for man to use his experience and knowledge when interpreting Scripture, and further gives greater weight to man’s own understanding, even if it may be contrary to Scriptural intent. Bound conscience accepts the idea that one can use their own experience and judgment to interpret Scripture in any way they truly believe is true, and that other brothers and sisters in Christ must respect that person’s interpretation, even if it is in error.

Much of the rationale used to justify bound conscience is to allow those of differing opinions to remain in Christian fellowship. In other words, it really doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as we all get along and share our Christian love with one another. In one of his sermons, Martin Luther addressed those that attempt to use misguided schemes to alter traditional Christian teachings and replace the very tenets of our faith. “It is the duty both of preachers and of hearers first of all and above all things to see to it that they have a clear and sure evidence that their doctrine is really the true word of God, revealed from heaven to the holy, original fathers, the prophets and apostles, and confirmed and commanded to be taught by Christ Himself. For we should by no means ever let doctrine be manhandled according to the pleasure and fancy of the individual who adapts it to human reason and understanding. Nor should we let men toy with Scripture, juggle the Word of God, and make it submit to being explained, twisted, stretched, and revised to suit people or to achieve peace and union; for then there could be no secure or stable foundation on which consciences might rely.” While it is important to maintain our fellowship in Christian love for one another, this cannot be accomplished at the cost of disregarding Scripture.  Our faith affects our very salvation and the grace God gives us.  Our love for one another is secondary to our faith and must take a back seat when God's Word is at risk.

Luther’s teachings from almost 500 years ago are still relevant today. While the ELCA looks to maintain harmony in the church, they continue to cast doubt upon the very teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is difficult enough being a Christian in today’s modern and enlightened new world without having to further deal with our own church ignoring or minimizing God’s Word, thus bolstering the arguments of the opponents of Christianity. Although bound conscience is not to be used in matters that affect salvation, the ELCA leadership’s persistent skepticism of Scripture and long held truths of our faith is driving the greater ELCA away from our Lord. In a clear rebuke of the doctrine of bound conscience, Luther said, "The world maintains, as do many people who do not understand, that we should not fight so hard about an article and thus trample on Christian love; rather, although we disagree on one small point, if we agree on everything else, we should give in and overlook the difference in order to preserve brotherly and Christian unity and fellowship. No, my dear man, do not commend peace and unity to me when thereby God's Word is lost...The Word was given unto us for eternal life and not to further outward peace and harmony... Therefore, do not talk to me about love and friendship if that means breaking with the Word or the faith, for the Gospel does not say love brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures, but instead 'the Word.” Luther presents a case against the very argument the ELCA has used to uphold the doctrine of bound conscience, and he makes it very clear that it is contrary to God’s law and intent.