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.