Friday, January 13, 2012

Bite the Hand

As a person who shares his household with three Siberian Huskies, I understand how important it is to make certain that my dogs understand and acknowledge that I am the alpha male of our pack. The alpha dog has first priority at feeding time and any treats or toys must be surrendered without question. (no growling allowed!) Any protestation from the dog must be answered and corrected. The dog must submit to the authority of the alpha in order to maintain control of the animal. Some humans, however, are not as easily trained and do in fact, bite the hand that feeds them.  ELCA presiding Bishop Mark Hanson has the temerity to challenge the very truths he is charged to uphold. The office that he holds is one of great responsibility. The Presiding Bishop acts as the chief ecumenical officer of the church and supervises all of the synodical bishops. The presiding bishop chairs the biennial Churchwide Assembly and approves the agendas for the assembly, the Church Council and its executive committee. The Presiding Bishop has the responsibility to establish policy and doctrinal direction, and oversees the administration of the entire church. The presiding Bishop also is charged to maintain sound doctrine and to enforce discipline against pastors engaging in heretical teaching. So, if the ELCA loses its way, the buck stops with the presiding bishop, since the responsibility to “keep the ship afloat” ultimately rests with that office.

Revelation 22:12-13, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” God offers His grace freely, to anyone who has faith in the Risen Christ. ELCA scholars endorse, and some teach, the idea that man is saved by grace alone, regardless of faith or belief. This gospel of universalism is not the official doctrine of the ELCA, but those that choose to believe this false gospel are welcomed and accepted without the slightest effort to correct this errant belief. John 16:7-10, Jesus said, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” Luther explained these verses in one of his sermons. “However, here the Lord speaks quite differently, and says, “The Holy Spirit will convict the world in respect of sin, because they believe not on me.” Unbelief only is mentioned here as sin, and faith is praised as suppressing and extinguishing the other sins, even the sins in the saints. Faith is so strong and overpowering that no sin dare put it under any obligation. Although sins are present in pious and believing persons, they are not imputed to them, nor shall their sins condemn them.” Although we are no longer bound by the law, it remains valid and violations continue to be sins, no matter what this errant denomination teaches and believes. But, when we believe in the Risen Christ, those sins will no longer lead us to condemnation.

Our Lord and Savior gave His life for us, and the leader of the ELCA decides that he is the one who makes the rules and rejects the conditions of the One who offers salvation. Hanson and the leaders of the ELCA refuse the gift of grace by faith to embrace the gospel of universal salvation, or grace alone, no faith necessary, deceiving the faithful with appealing and pleasant words. They uphold the love of the neighbor over the love of our God, advocate that we should strive to fix our broken world, and emphasize the goal of social justice. These things sound so right, but what is truly missing in their ministry is the most important thing, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. How much longer will the Master tolerate these impudent and presumptuous children that continually bite His benevolent hand? 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”

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