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.