Sunday, October 31, 2010

Liberation Theology? Collective Salvation?

President Obama has remarked on his belief that his fate remains tied to the fates of others, that his personal salvation is not going to come about without a collective salvation for this country and that an individual’s salvation depends upon collective salvation. Collective salvation is a belief that unless everyone is saved, no one will be saved. In a greater sense, collective salvation means that one cannot be saved unless you cooperate with everyone, even sacrificing, to ensure everyone else’s salvation. Once that task is complete, all are saved together. This is not a Christian theology. Ephesians 1:13-14, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.” One must come to accept and believe the truth that is Jesus Christ of one’s own volition. Our individual salvation is guaranteed by our God when we truly believe and have faith in the Risen Christ.

Collective salvation is a concept contrived by the originators of liberation theology. This way of thinking was introduced in Latin America Catholic churches in the late 1950’s and adopted by many predominantly Black churches in the 1960’s. Liberation theology interprets the teachings of Jesus to mean that we must fight for those trapped in unjust economic, political, or social conditions or to engage in political activism to advance the cause of social justice. Check out the ELCA social issues webpage. In liberation theology, there are only two classes, the oppressors and the oppressed, those with power and those that are powerless. The concepts of collective salvation and liberation theology are the driving forces of the ELCA’s ministry. This fact will not be found on the home page of their website, but the ELCA Bishop, Mark Hanson, spoke about how important social justice is to him, when he referred to what he called the gospel of radical inclusiveness in his most recent town hall meeting. Most troubling is that while he was speaking about this social justice issue, was that he believed that it was as important to a Christian as is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing is more important than our relationship with our Savior! 

The ELCA continues to welcome anyone and everyone that they can use to assist them in their effort to achieve their ideals of social justice, which more often than not, conflict with our Lord's will. The ELCA declares, God’s work, our hands when a more proper response should be God’s love, flowing through us. Yes, we must embrace our fellow man while we love our neighbors as ourselves. But, elevating that ideal over and above the love of our Lord will only lead us away from Him and act as an obstacle to our fulfilling our Lord’s command in the Great Commission. For without the bread of life that is our Savior, the bread of this life will do nothing to feed the spiritual needs of the hungry and only will act as a barrier to their salvation. John 6:35, “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Those that adhere to this collective salvation theory and liberation theology believe that they can win the war against evil in societies by eliminating the discriminatory practices of those in power, also known as the oppressors. (See ELCA Reconciled in Christ, European American Lutheran Association, Anti-racism task force, and on and on) If everyone cooperates and sacrifices for the common good, all of society’s ills will be eradicated and only then can salvation and harmony exist. Leaders of the ELCA claim that the oppressors include those that interfere with, or disagree with their social justice agenda. Many who choose to adhere to traditional Biblical teachings are now looked upon as the oppressors of those who choose to lift up their bound conscience over God’s law. The ELCA uses this concept of collective salvation to fight a cultural war, using the base of power obtained through the benevolence of its membership to try to influence governments, by lobbying, and creating institutions that can defend and endorse their social justice agenda.

As the ELCA propels itself upon this path of secular ideals, they complain that we must maintain our unity in the church. The 17th Chapter of John is often cited as the reason to not quarrel with one another and to remain in fellowship despite our differences. John 17: 20-23, Jesus said, “My prayer is not for them alone, I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one. Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be as one as we are one – 23 I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Although Jesus prayed for his disciples, all future believers are also included in His prayer. While it is important as Christians that we maintain unity, our unity must remain in Christ. When a church abandons its teachings to promote secular principles instead of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, we have a responsibility to correct the error of their ways. The leadership of the ELCA has ignored all efforts to return them to the path of righteousness. It is now the task of those that remain true to the Lord to turn away from this errant denomination and pray that those that remain in the ELCA and are faithful to the Lord recognize that they also need to leave this denomination behind. Our Lord’s mandate is not about collective salvation or liberation theology. We must obey our Lord’s command of the Great Commission, to call everyone in the world to individual salvation through belief and faith in the living Christ.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Suppression of the Truth

The truth that is our Savior, Jesus Christ is under attack. While the secular world openly maligns Christians and their faith, this attack is much more insidious. This attack comes from the very institution charged to uphold the truths of the Christian faith, one of our Lord’s own churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The front page of the ELCA website proclaims that the ELCA accepts the following creeds as true declarations of the faith of this church: the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Augsburg Confessions. Chapter III — The Son of God, confesses: …..Our churches also teach that the Word – that is, the Son of God – took on man’s nature in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary. So there are two natures, divine and human, inseparably conjoined in the unity of his person, one Christ, true God and true man....  

But on the ELCA web-site they proclaim that: This statement, ......has not closed the doctrinal debate over Jesus’ conception for many Lutherans, and by inference that includes ELCA members. So for the ELCA the debate still rages as to the validity of the divine birth of Jesus Christ to the Virgin Mary. Luke 1:26-38, “God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth to a virgin...named Mary. ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you...You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus... Mary asked the angel, ‘How will this be since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God’.” Matthew 1:18-25, “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit... An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said, Joseph do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit...Joseph did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. He gave him the name Jesus.”  These verses make it clear that Mary, who was a virgin, conceived through the Holy Spirit, and declares that Jesus is truly human and divine Son of God.

Luther’s explanation of Second Article of the Apostle’s Creed states; "I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won [delivered] me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, in order that I may be [wholly] His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true." The ELCA is skeptical of the very truths that it is charged to uphold and preach to the world. Furthermore, those that would reject this false teaching and stand true to God’s Word are persecuted and admonished by the leadership of the ELCA. The Holy Spirit inspired the authors of Scripture to make known what our Lord expects of us. Scripture is unmistakably clear in emphasizing the moral and ethical behavior that our God expects his children to follow. Why is it so difficult for the leaders of the ELCA to understand that there is a reason that our God wants us to behave in a certain manner? Yet, this progressive denomination continues to cast doubt upon our Lord’s intent by challenging the veracity of the Biblical authors that were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Mark Hanson said that this is a time for reconciling and calls for restraint and civility. He cites the Small Catechism, Luther’s explanation of the Eighth Commandment, We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything. This is an admonition to those that embrace our Lord’s Word and choose to keep Him at the center of our lives. Bishop Hanson accuses those who stand up for God’s Word and challenge this false gospel that the ELCA is perpetrating upon those susceptible to these false teachings, as liars. And now, the leadership of the ELCA punishes pastors that remain true to Scripture and have the audacity to challenge these heretical teachings.

Romans 1:18-19, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” What is problematic for the leaders and scholars of the ELCA is that by their very status with the church, God’s will has been made very clear to them. The membership of the ELCA trusts the leadership to uphold proper doctrine and teaching. Those who lead God’s church are willfully straying from the path that God has set before them, putting their membership at risk. In this secular world, Christians deal with enough derision and persecution without our own ELCA scholars rejecting the very tenets of our faith. These learned Biblical scholars of the ELCA discredit Scripture in order to advance their secular desires and hide the truth from those thirsting to hear God’s Word. They alter doctrine to feed the desires of those that long to hear that their behavior is acceptable in God’s eyes. These leaders and scholars of the ELCA reject the validity of Scripture and uphold their secular aspirations, defiantly declaring God’s Word a book of faith stories that are not always pertinent to this time and place. They twist the words of Scripture to justify their false teachings and declare that God is telling us something new. This truth is self evident; that God sent His only Son, in human form, to take upon Himself all our sins, to suffer and die in our place and to defeat death so that we may live. Yet, the leadership and Biblical scholars of the ELCA seek to suppress the truth of our Lord’s victory and supplant it with their more enlightened and modern sensibilities.

How very sad this must make our God. Those that are charged to uphold the doctrine of our Christian faith are leading the faithful on a path away from Him. Will these enlightened leaders and scholars of the ELCA have their names written in the Book of Life at the final day of judgment? Will our Lord welcome them as good and faithful servants, or will He separate them from the wheat and throw them into the burning fire? Our path to salvation has been paid for with the blood of our Savior. Do not place your gift of grace at risk by following the false gospel promoted by the ELCA. Do proclaim His Word everywhere and to everyone!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don't Kill the Messenger

When a church strays so far from it foundational beliefs that action is necessary, don’t place the blame on those that expose the truth. Many are angry at those that are speaking out for the Lord and informing their congregations about the doctrinal shifts of the ELCA. Those that are upset are concerned that this “unbelievable” information will “upset the apple cart’ and cause strife and division within their congregations. Some just want this to all go away and “Can’t we just go on as always” because their congregation is true to the Word and the message from their pulpit is sound. When the enemy is at the gate, ignoring him will not cause him to go away. As the doctrinal shifts of the ELCA become more and more radical, traditional congregations remaining within the ELCA are at risk. Doctrine that has been in effect for hundreds of years is slowly being eroded away by the doctrine of “bound conscience”. The leadership of the ELCA has the responsibility to protect and support sound doctrine, not eliminate it and replace it with human reason and opinion.

“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.” - sermon by Martin Luther

It is hard to believe that this Synod, that has been so influential in our faith journeys, has drifted so far away from the traditional Lutheran teachings. This is not supposed to happen in the church. We hold an innate trust in those that have been elevated to the leadership positions in our church. That they would choose to disregard God’s word and replace it with their own modern sensibilities is almost unfathomable. The ELCA that we grew up to love and trust is an entirely different animal now. Now those that have witnessed the pagan rituals at Synod Assembly services, the minimizing of sin by the elimination of confession and absolution, and discovered these troubling shifts in doctrine are questioning why their church is leaving God behind. Committees have been put in place to investigate the doctrinal shifts of the ELCA and when they report back to their congregations some respond with anger, derision, and accuse committee members of “preaching” to them. Who then is responsible to inform? Our pastors are afraid to speak out against the ELCA, lest they become subject to discipline. That responsibility now lies with the laity. Yes, those that for all these years chose to stay in the background and let “someone else” attend Churchwide Assemblies. Yes. we bear much of the blame, due to our failure to get involved, for allowing these dramatic shifts away from Scripture and it is imcumbent upon us to take on the responsibility to expose this false doctrine.

All the information detailing these shifts in doctrine is clearly posted on the ELCA’s own website. There is no need to place our opinions in the investigative reports. The positions of the ELCA are there for all that choose to open their eyes, minds, and hearts. These reports are not intended to cause division in the church, only education. Those that refuse to listen to the truth are harming no one but themselves. Jeremiah 5:21, “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but do not see; who have ears, but do not hear:” These doctrinal shifts of the ELCA are not simply morality issues, these shifts will affect the salvation of those who choose to accept these new doctrines. Know this; the ELCA that you grew up in is ceasing to exist. Those of you afraid of change and think that by remaining in the ELCA will allow you to “keep the good times rolling” are in for a big surprise. Those that remain will eventually be affected by all the doctrinal shifts and things will change, and not for the better. If one really wants things to continue as they are, with sound Christ centered doctrine and traditional preaching from the pulpit, they will need to move to the more traditional alternatives to the ELCA. Do not be foolish; open your eyes, minds and hearts to hear God’s word. Discuss and reach out to each other in true Christian love and listen to everyone’s concerns. Fellowship is important, but our allegiance remains with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, not with a church denomination.

2 Timothy 2:14-16, 22-26, “Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” Explain the truth with patience and understanding.  Engaging in foolish arguments will only cause the truth of the matter to be lost.  Teach and explain the Word, and listen to questions with respect.  Let those in opposition be heard and in turn they may listen to the truth and be drawn back to the Lord.  Matthew 13:16, Jesus said "Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear."  Let's all open our eyes and ears to embrace the truth that is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The New "Normal"

Our current economic crisis has left almost 10% of United States workers unemployed and 17% under employed. Personal wealth and investments have plummeted, leaving many retirement plans underfunded and causing much consternation and worry. The tax and spend policies of our government has caused the national debt to soar. News reports indicate that a 10% unemployment rate will become the new “normal”. The doctrinal shifts of the ELCA mirror the U.S. economic upheaval. The leadership of the ELCA has determined that passing their radical social agenda is worth losing up to 20% of their membership. Pastors and congregations that remain true to the Word are leaving the ELCA and flocking to traditional, faithful Synods like LCMC and NALC at numbers that just may dwarf the ELCA leader’s estimates. These progressive leaders of the ELCA are exploiting the benevolence of ELCA members to promote their idea of social justice. This is causing many congregants to redirect their giving to other ministries that remain true to the Word of God. The combination of the economic downturn and redirection of benevolence has caused the ELCA to slash their budget, cut retired ELCA pastoral pensions by 27% and eliminate almost 40% of their staff.

One would think that this would give pause to the leadership of the ELCA and perhaps cause them to reassess the course they are charting. Not these enlightened leaders and scholars that know better than our Lord. It’s damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead with a progressive, liberal social agenda, leaving our Lord behind! What you learned in Sunday School and in Confirmation classes is no longer deemed appropriate by the leaders and scholars of the ELCA. They profess their faith in the creeds and confessions on the front page of their web-site, but then publish essays that cast doubt upon the tenets of our Christian faith, directed at those that are "new" or "returning" to church. Just like our economy will mean less jobs and more taxes, the ELCA gives you less Jesus and more justice. This new “normal” for the ELCA means that you needn’t trouble yourself with that bothersome resurrection thing. You no longer need to have faith in the Risen Christ. Everyone is saved no matter what you believe. They believe and teach that there are now many paths that lead to your salvation.

This new “normal” in the ELCA means that that troublesome book with all those inflexible rules, also known as the Bible, can be disregarded and replaced with your “bound conscience”. The ELCA’s new Lutheranism is easy. Don’t like the fact that God looks upon homosexuality as a sin, not to worry, the ELCA will put together a task force and have the Church Wide Assembly vote to ignore Scripture and adopt doctrine contrary to God’s law, because, of course, we cannot truly love and accept someone if we don’t also accept their sinful behavior. The old adage "love the sinner and hate the sin" is no longer valid, because the ELCA is in the business of eliminating sin. Never mind what God says in His Word, He didn’t really mean it because the ELCA scholars have discovered that He is now saying something new. Upset that God refers to Himself in masculine terms, no problem, the radical feminists have that one covered with their “mother within us” Lord’s Prayer. They have not only eliminated all references to the masculine God, they have replaced Him with a pagan goddess. In this new and enlightened ELCA, anything goes. Apparently the leaders and scholars of the ELCA believe that since we are under grace, the law is no longer of any consequence so they advocate ignoring God’s Word if you find it bothersome.

Romans 6:15-18, “Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed you allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and become slaves to righteousness.” Those that wish to remain faithful to the truth that is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will have a tough road to follow should they choose to continue in fellowship with this wayward denomination. As the leadership of the ELCA adopts doctrine that drifts further away from the path that the Lord has set before us, eventually it will take a toll on its’ membership. Faith saves, but misguided love can deceive. The ELCA is deceiving its’ membership in a never ending love affair with the things of this world. Remember, this world is the dominion of the evil one. We are to resist the desires of worldly things and to hold fast to the promise that is our Lord. Those of you that remain true to the Lord, know this; The ELCA has already left you and if you decide to remain, you may eventually learn to accept this new “normal” that denies our Lord and Savior.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


2012 is the last year of the Mayan calendar, believed by some to set in motion great calamities and perhaps the end of time, as the movie 2012 illustrated with spectacular special effects. 2012 will bring to us local, national and presidential elections. 2012 will also bring a new task assigned to each congregation belonging to the ELCA; The implementation and accountability report of each congregation’s implementation of the Human Sexuality; Gift and Trust statement. To quote from the implementing resolutions that were passed by the ELCA church council in April of 2010; *To call upon all congregations, synods, early childhood education centers, elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, seminaries, campus ministries, outdoor ministries, social ministry organizations, public policy advocacy ministries, and all church-wide units to carry out the substance and spirit of this statement; and to call upon Church in Society and other appropriate churchwide units to oversee a process of implementation and accountability for this social statement and to report on implementation to the Church Council in early 2012.*

Understand that the ELCA social statement entitled Human Sexuality; Gift and Trust consists of 44 pages that most people have not had the time or inclination to read. This particular document includes the following language; *As Lutherans, we believe that we are justified by grace through faith. The Lutheran Confessions guide us in our understanding of justification by identifying three intersecting affirmations: solus Christus, sola gratia, and sola fide (Christ alone, grace alone, and by faith alone).3 Deeply grounded in Scripture, understood as the living Word of God, these together proclaim Jesus Christ as central to the Gospel: These three emphases also tell us that sin does not have to do simply with the keeping or breaking of rules or laws. Rather, we sin when we turn away from God and look to ourselves. Sin turns us toward obsessive self-concern, with disastrous consequences for ourselves and others. We live therefore within the paradox that in our sexuality, as in other aspects of life, we always encounter both our own sinfulness and God's grace. It is only through Christ that we can turn in faith to trust God, which leads immediately to our baptismal vocation to love and serve the neighbor.*

These words that are solid Lutheran doctrine, would lead one to believe that this social statement is, in fact, true to the foundational principals of Christianity. Indeed, our greatest sin is placing ourselves, our wants and desires above our Lord, which all of us do with amazing regularity. When we place the emphasis on the love of our neighbor above the love of our Lord, we break what our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ taught was the greatest commandment. To quote from the above statement, “obsessive self concern”, in this case when that person's sexual identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and acceptance of those lifestyles as good and right in the eyes of the Lord and His church, is of utmost importance.  It's not enough to love our neighbors as ourselves, it is now necessary to place the acceptance of our neighbor's sexual identity over our love for them.  This social statement places those identities over and above the love of the Lord and our true identity as disciples of Christ. This emphasis on the self breaks the greatest commandment and we, in fact, worship the self above our Lord.  This statement from the document contradicts the very doctrine cited to support it; *The church's historical experience supports its confidence that solemn promises, made before a company of witnesses who ask for God's blessing on a man and a woman, have the power to create a unique framework within which two people, a new family, and the community may thrive. Consistent with that experience, this church has confidence that such promises, supported by the contractual framework of civil law, can create a lifetime relationship of commitment and cooperation. Recognizing that this conclusion differs from the historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions, some people, though not all, in this church and within the larger Christian community, conclude that marriage is also the appropriate term to use in describing similar benefits, protection, and support for same-gender couples entering into lifelong, monogamous relationships. They believe that such accountable relationships also provide the necessary foundation that supports trust and familial and community thriving. Other contractual agreements, such as civil unions, also seek to provide some of these protections and to hold those involved in such relationships accountable to one another and to society.*

Matthew 19:4-6, "Haven't you read," he (Jesus) replied, "that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, 5 and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God had joined together, let no one separate."  So, because certain behavior is acceptable in civil society, the leaders and scholars of the ELCA have come to the conclusion that God must be wrong to prohibit that conduct. Soon, the substance and spirit of this statement is to be taught in our ELCA schools, beginning with early childhood centers. Apparently the ELCA needs to reach them early to instill this secular agenda with our children. It is indeed unfortunate that those that truly want to love their neighbor accept this false doctrine, not realizing that they are elevating themselves above the God that they truly love. We cannot disregard the word of God. When we truly believe, we are under grace, no longer under the law. But, when we are truly filled with the love of our Lord, we will do anything to please Him, including denying ourselves the pleasures that He has expressly forbidden. We are nothing without our love of our Lord and our faith in the Risen Christ. Why would anyone want to endanger the grace that is so freely given to us worthless sinful human beings? Matthew 22:37-39, “Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” We must place ourselves and our love of our neighbor secondary to our love of the Lord and obey Him. In everything we do, we must conduct ourselves as our Lord commands and accomplish those things to give the glory to Him.

* denotes* Copyright © 2009 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Produced by the Church in Society program unit, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Speak the Truth in Love

Ephesians 4:15-16, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, that we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” The body that Paul refers to is the church and the head of the church is Jesus Christ. The church must grow according to the direction of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our Lord gives us direction in His Word.  When we dwell in His Word, His Spirit will lead us in our understanding and we will grow in our faith.  We must also grow in unity and love of one another. Simply loving one another or living our lives in a Christian manner is not enough. One must believe in the truth that Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, went to the cross, suffered and died to atone for our sins, overcame death and was resurrected so that we may have salvation. Having unity is more than simply having a loving attitude or religious feeling. One must have a true understanding about Jesus Christ. To grow the whole body of the church is much more than merely doing good deeds. We are called to live as Jesus lived. We are called to reach out to those that do not have that personal relationship with our Lord. And we must bring those back to the Lord that have gone astray.

Many in the LGBT community are angry that the doctrine of bound conscience allows traditional Lutherans to disagree with the ELCA’s human sexuality statement. Many that choose to adhere to Scripture are derided and called intolerant and hateful. This does nothing to build up the church in Christ’s love. Instead, this posture causes division and strife among the community of the faithful. Is it more important to regard one’s sexual identity above the commands of our Lord to love one another? Christ’s disciples are called to reach out to those that have been led astray with Christian love and respect. Anger is not an option. James 1:19-20, 22 “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, 20 because our anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” When we place our Lord first in our hearts we will joyously obey God’s law. If we place ourselves first and choose to disobey God’s law, we will become slaves to sin.

The leadership and scholars of the ELCA have lifted up the things of this world over God’s command. Sexual identities, good works, tolerance, minimizing sin by making confession optional, and falsely interpreting God’s Word to fit in with the secular world, have replaced our Lord as the cornerstone of their Faith. Isaiah 53:5, 12, "But he was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 12 because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.  For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."  Everything we do should be done to give glory to our Lord.  We are lost without our faith in the Risen Christ.  Nothing else in this world matters as much as what our Lord did for us.

The ELCA is all about promoting their struggle for social justice. They proclaim “God's work, our hands” as the mission of the ELCA. What about those that do not know our Lord. If we gain the whole world, but lose our souls, we are nothing. Being a Christian is not just about loving your neighbor and being accepting, tolerant, and welcoming. God’s law has been given to us in His Word as written by mortal men, inspired by the Holy Spirit. If we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we will also joyfully obey His law. There will be no need to proclaim our own special identities. We are Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ and we will proclaim His Word to the world until we can speak no more. 1 John 3:11, 16, “For this is the message you heard from the beginning; We should love one another. 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another.”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Words do Matter

A misspoken word or phrase has damaged or ended many careers. Those in the political world and especially religious leaders and their churches are often the targets of the “word police”. The political correctness that permeates this society renders the old adage that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” all but obsolete. But, some words do matter. One needs to look no further than the ELCA website to find the words that matter to them. The Biblical scholars of the ELCA cast doubt upon the very foundation of our faith by disputing the Virgin Birth. The ELCA convicts itself with its own words on their official website. In referring to the Book of Concord, the Augsburg Confession III The Son of God, the website proclaims, “This statement, written in the 16th Century, supports the Western Church’s traditional understanding of the doctrine referred to as The Virgin Birth. While it remains official and normative for the Evangelical Lutheran Church today, it has not closed the doctrinal debate over Jesus’ conception for many Lutherans, and by inference that includes ELCA members. It is a doctrine debated by many other Protestant Christians, scholars and those who inquire about the Christian faith and its tenets.” The Augsburg Confession, on which our Lutheran doctrine is declared, is cast as outdated and perhaps, obsolete. Much of the rest of the text regarding the Virgin Birth tends to cast doubt upon this foundational belief of Christianity. While much of the text questions the validity of the miracle of the Virgin Birth, there is little argument within this text that supports the traditional belief as written in Scripture.

Additionally, the ELCA’s own words betray their true intentions when one views their official webpage on the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This text is particularly troubling. After a brief synopsis of Scripture inferring that the bodily resurrection of Christ may have been misrepresented in Scripture, it goes on to say, “All of this has led some scholars to write that the risen Jesus (and apparitions of the risen Jesus) is a supernatural reality which does not belong to this world and cannot be the object of historic investigation. Rather, Jesus' resurrection is an object of faith.” This discourse continues throughout the article, questioning the physical resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Luke is recognized by Biblical scholars as historically correct and Luke records the life of Jesus and His ministry in great detail. Much of Luke’s investigation included the testimony of many eyewitnesses to the events that he recorded. In Luke 24:38-42, “He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 Ands while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything to eat?’ 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.” It is clear by the testimony of Luke, Mark, John, Matthew, and Paul that Jesus was resurrected in body and flesh and was not some type of apparition as is alleged by the ELCA scholars that continue to debate the authority of Scripture. While the website does contain a disclaimer, stating that these opinions are not the official stance of the ELCA, other than to cast doubt, why would these opinions be clearly posted on their official website and directed to new and returning members?  The opinions of those scholars appear to be given at least as much credibility as Biblical accounts.

The Apostle Paul has advice for those that would embrace what the ELCA is teaching, 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, 14-15, 17, “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. 14, And if Christ has not been raised, your preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God… 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

Why would the leadership and the Biblical scholars of the ELCA cast doubt upon the very foundation of the faith that they claim to profess. It is very troubling that the leadership of the ELCA fosters this discourse that suggests that the Bible, the Word of God, is somehow not reliable and that we should not be so naïve as to believe what uneducated men wrote almost two thousand years ago. It becomes obvious that the leadership of the ELCA considers themselves to have more authority than our Lord and that their opinions are more significant than the written Word of God. That, my friends, is the deepest, darkest form of heresy! Christian Lutheranism is at risk while the leadership of the ELCA is on the fast track to replace the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their misguided false gospel.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The gospel of Radical Inclusiveness

During a live town hall meeting, ELCA Bishop Mark Hanson revealed that he believed that Christians need to promote “Two gospels”. He described that these “Two gospels”, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the gospel of radical inclusiveness must be proclaimed equally, sort of like doing a “two step” dance. Bishop Hanson said that the two were inseparable, that one cannot exist without the other. He seemed genuinely well intentioned while explaining that we must, as Christians, reach out in love to everyone, despite our differences. He called for all Christians to reach out to those of differing faiths, opinions, and lifestyles with the love of Christ. While he is correct in calling us to reach out to others in Christian love, he betrays his real intentions. He believes and the ELCA promotes that this gospel of radical inclusiveness is equal to the Gospel of Christ. To push a radical, progressive agenda by disregarding God's Law and eliminating sin, is not abiding by our Lord's will.  To love our neighbor is the second most important commandment.  To love our God with all our mind, all our hearts, and all our soul is first and foremost.  What the leadership of the ELCA needs to realize is that we must first declare our faith through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Without faith, our inclusiveness, welcoming and tolerance mean nothing.  Without our faith in the Risen Christ, all our love, all our work toward social justice, all our goals and ambitions are meaningless.  Once we accept the truth of our Lord and Savior, only then will we be able to properly reach out in true Christian love.

The type of love that is necessary to fully reach out in true Christian love is known as “agape” or divine love. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, being one with the Father, was the only human capable of this unconditional divine love. He willingly gave His life to save all of us unworthy, sinful human beings who continually fall short of our Lord’s expectations. Even while suffering and dying on the cross, He had the temerity to ask His Father to forgive His executioners. When we think that we can attain this divine love apart from our Lord and Savior, we fail to realize that we are utterly incapable of expressing this divine, perfect, and unconditional love. Exercising our imperfect love with the misguided assumption that it is agape love, we assume that we can, in fact, forgive as our Father does. Filled with this imperfect, immature love we decide that what God declares as sin, should now be acceptable because we act in the name of love.

Through this self-righteous regard of our just and praiseworthy love of our neighbor, we look to Scripture and decide that, because God’s Law conflicts with our worldly desires, that the authors of Scripture must have somehow misunderstood God or that now God is telling us something new. Our God is all powerful, all knowing, yesterday, today and tomorrow. He knows everything that has happened or is going to happen. This world and everything in it was designed and planned by our Lord. How is that now He is telling us something new and to what self appointed Apostle of Christ has this new interpretation of Scripture been revealed? Anyone who can convince oneself that the Holy Spirit was misquoted or that the writers didn’t hear our Lord appropriately when the Scriptures were written, are peddling nothing but a false gospel. Those that question the Virgin Birth, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and advocate that there are many paths to salvation that do not include faith in the Risen Christ, preach apostasy.

We must love others as our Lord first loved us. Jesus said in John 14:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” To emulate Christ’s love is the standard that all Christians strive for. But, we are not capable of this divine love, especially if we try to express this love without first surrendering our lives to our Lord and Savior. This is where the trouble lies. If we wish to attain this unconditional love of our own volition, we are destined to fail. Without our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we are nothing. The leadership of the ELCA promotes the self, good works, social justice and love. If we fail to deny ourselves and surrender ourselves to Christ, we cannot accomplish the love that our Savior requires to be His disciples. It is all well and good to talk about love, but when it revolves around man’s imperfect love, this love can lead to ruin. Understand that most that fall prey to this misguided interpretation of love have the best of intentions and truly believe that they are filled with the love of the Lord. When you are truly filled with the Holy Spirit, you will gladly obey God's Law, not manipulate His words to satisfy your worldly desires.  But, since the leadership of the ELCA promotes a doctrine of love that is centered, not in Christ, but in the self, they are chasing a false reality.

There is a hole in our heart that can only be filled with Christ. When we try to fill that emptiness with the self and the things of this world, it feels empty and we are still alone and unfulfilled. Our hearts long for that relationship with our Lord and He is the only one that can truly fill that emptiness within our hearts. When we finally decide to deny ourselves and place Christ at the center of our lives, we are filled with His joy. He becomes the central motivation in our lives. Everything we do or accomplish will be done to give glory to our Lord. Things of this world will truly fade in importance. It is only when the self dies that we will truly begin to live and begin to approximate the love that our Father has for us. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no mind has conceived – these things God has prepared for those who love him” 10 for God has revealed them to us by his Spirit.” It is only when we truly love our Lord that will we begin to realize how much He really loves and chrerishes each and every one of His children.