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.